Merkley, Democratic Senators Fight to Lower Americans’ Energy Bills, Create Jobs, Reduce Carbon Pollution

Washington, D.C. – Senator Jeff Merkley was joined by Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Tina Smith today in announcing the introduction of the Community Energy Savings Program Act of 2019, legislation that helps address three critical topics of concern for American families: lowering monthly energy bills, mitigating climate chaos, and creating good-paying jobs.

The Community Energy Savings Program Act of 2019 (CESP) provides low-interest financing to consumers who want to make energy efficiency, renewable energy or energy storage upgrades to their homes—reducing wasted energy and carbon pollution. These energy efficiency projects also help create good-paying jobs across America, through the manufacturing and installation of materials used in energy efficiency upgrades.

“Lots of families in my blue collar neighborhood would love to reduce their energy bills, but don’t have the cash flow to make the up-front investments in better insulation, tighter windows, or a more efficient boiler,” said Merkley.  “If we give them low-cost loans that can be repaid from their savings on their utility bills, it’s not just good for them, it’s good for all of us.  With this bill we can put more money in working families’ pockets, create good jobs, and help cut the pollution that is driving droughts, wildfires, and vicious storms.”

“Our country can lead or we can follow when it comes to the clean energy transition. I want us to lead, and one way we can do that is by making it easier for families in Minnesota and across the country to make home improvements that save energy,” said Smith. “The cheapest and cleanest energy is the energy that you don’t ever need to buy through saving on utility bills, and I hope more of our colleagues join us in this effort.”

Senator Merkley wrote the bipartisan Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP), which was included in the 2014 Farm Bill, and will help thousands of families and businesses in rural communities across America make critical energy efficiency improvements to their homes and workplaces. CESP expands those opportunities to Americans in suburban and urban areas, ensuring that more families can make energy infrastructure improvements at a much lower cost than any other option.

“This bill builds on the creative solution that the Senator developed as part of the energy title of the Farm Bill and would expand voluntary financing programs for energy efficiency activities to help homeowners and businesses,” said David Terry, Executive Director of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO).

“The Environmental and Energy Study Institute applauds the commitment and leadership of Sen. Merkley in his introduction of the Community Energy Savings Program (CESP),” said Carol Werner, Executive Director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI).  “EESI has a long history of work with the Rural Energy Savings Program to bring zero interest loans to rural electric co-ops and small rural public utilities for the purpose of energy efficiency, renewable energy or energy storage upgrades for co-op members.  Sen. Merkley has been key to the success of this program — and has now developed CESP to build on this model and bring these important services to an even larger constituency.  CESP can leverage resources from other programs, truly helping make a big difference for so many consumers by bringing them smart, common-sense solutions.”

“ACEEE applauds Senator Merkley for introducing an on-bill financing program for energy efficient and clean energy technologies,” said Pasha Majdi, Federal Policy Manager of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “Upfront costs remain a major barrier to implementing energy efficiency projects in homes and businesses. The Community Energy Savings Program addresses that problem so customers can save money on their energy bills, resulting in lower emissions and a better environment.”

At a time when working American families struggle with stagnant wages, rising costs of living, and more frequent extreme weather events, the benefits of increasing energy efficiency are multifold. The Department of Energy has long identified improving energy efficiency as “one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to combat climate change, clean the air we breathe, improve the competitiveness of our businesses and reduce energy costs for consumers.”

In addition to NASEO, EESI, and ACEEE, the Community Energy Savings Program Act of 2019 is endorsed by Prosperity Now.

A summary of CESP is available here, and the full legislative text is available here.