Merkley Amendment to Bolster Local Energy Efficiency Programs Passes Senate

Washington, D.C.
– Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley
today offered an amendment to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill
to support efficiency programs to help homeowners and business owners renovate
buildings to save energy and cut their bills.  The amendment was adopted

 “This amendment will enable homeowners and local
businesses to take the lead in making our buildings more energy efficient,”
Merkley said.  “This amendment supports programs that will create jobs,
save money, and reduce pollution.  Our transition to a clean energy
economy will take cooperation at every level of government and we need to
encourage innovative energy-saving solutions in our communities.”

Retrofitting existing buildings with energy efficiency
measures and on-site renewable energy technology, such as solar power, offers
an excellent opportunity to create jobs, save property owners money, cut global
warming pollution, and transition to a clean energy economy.

While energy-efficiency upgrades save money over the long
term, and often relatively quickly, the upfront costs of renovation can be a
major hurdle for many businesses and homeowners.  Under programs being
developed by several cities, states, utilities, and other entities, building
owners would receive a low-interest loan to pay for retrofits that they can pay
back from savings on their utility bills. 

These loan repayment programs result in a net savings for
building owners on day one, as the combined loan payment and energy bill is
usually lower than the pre-retrofit energy bill.

Senator Merkley’s amendment ensures that the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE) has the authority to offer loan guarantees to energy efficiency
retrofit programs, allowing the local programs to raise more capital and reach
more homeowners and buildings owners as soon as possible.

By directing the Oregon Department of Energy to administer
these types of loans, recent state legislation sponsored by Rep. Jules Bailey
has positioned Oregon as a leader in the development of innovative energy
efficiency solutions.  The City of Portland has also pioneered this type
of program. Merkley’s amendment will make Oregon’s programs even