Monday, May 10, 2010

Bill would give rural electrics billions for loans to customers to increase their energy efficiency

UPDATE 5/13: The fundamental framework of HR 4785 "received no opposition, although several Republicans questioned how to offset the bill's $995 million price tag" at the Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Subcommittee,  Sara Goodman of Environment & Energy Daily reports. In addition to stand-alone bills introducing the Rural Star program in both the House and Senate, the program is also included in the broad climate bill introduced by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Connecticutt Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman Wednesday. (Read more)

A bill that would create a loan program for rural electric cooperatives to encourage customers to retrofit homes with energy-efficiency improvements will be the subject of a House of Representatives Agriculture subcommittee hearing Wednesday. The bill, HR 4785, was introduced by South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn and is "co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 39 members including several on the Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Subcommittee, which is holding the hearing," Katherine Ling of Environment & Energy Daily reports.

The bill would provide $4.9 billion to the co-ops, who would "make that money available through 'micro loans' to their consumers to make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes at interest rates no higher than 3 percent," Ling writes. The bill's summary places the total cost to the government at $995 million: "$755 million for the budget authority provided through the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service, $3 million for staff and training and $200 million for a grant fund to cover up-front administrative costs, as the loans are not disbursed until after the work is completed," Ling writes. Loans would stay with the property if the original owner moved, meaning they must be used toward renovations to the structure of the home and not movable components like appliances. (Read more, subscription required)

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