Merkley Bill to Lower Energy Costs

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley
joined with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) to introduce new legislation today to
support local programs that help homeowners and business owners save energy and
cut their energy bills by offering low-interest loans for energy-efficient
building upgrades. 

The Clean Energy for Homes and Buildings Act will make loan
guarantees, financing, and credit support available for these energy-efficiency

Merkley’s legislation is modeled on Oregon’s bi-partisan
State House Bill 2626, authored by State House Rep. Jules Bailey (D-42) and
recently signed into law.

“We know that energy-efficient retrofits dramatically cut
energy bills over the long term, but the initial installation costs are often
too high for families or business owners to deal with,” Merkley said. 
“This bill bolsters creative programs that offer low-cost loans for these
retrofits, allowing people to start saving money as soon as the upgrades are

“We have very serious energy security challenges in the
world. Investing in energy efficiency saves money and reduces greenhouse gas
emissions. This program would help federal, state and local governments take a
leadership role. It has maximum flexibility to also assist residential,
commercial and industrial property owners to make energy efficiency upgrades,”
Lugar said. 

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.

“Local communities and states,
including Oregon, have taken the lead in assisting home and business owners
looking to lower energy costs by making their buildings more energy efficient,”
Merkley said.  “These kinds of programs are crucial to the creation of
American jobs and our transition to a clean energy economy.”

Merkley successfully amended
the Energy and Water Appropriations bill last week to make it easier for the
Department of Energy to provide loans to these state and local energy
efficiency programs.  The Clean Energy for Homes and Buildings Act expands
on that success by establishing a dedicated federal program to promote and
support these efforts.