Merkley Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Create Jobs and Lower Energy Costs for Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced legislation to create jobs and lower energy bills for families and small businesses in rural communities by promoting energy-saving home renovations.  The Rural Energy Savings Program would assist rural electric co-ops in offering low-interest loans to their customers, which families and businesses can repay through savings on their monthly energy bills. Oregon has 18 electric co-ops serving communities across the state.

“This is a common sense, bipartisan bill,” Merkley said. “Energy-saving renovations create essential construction jobs and lower energy costs for consumers.  We can get people back to work and put more money in homeowners’ pockets, and if that’s not common sense, I don’t know what is.” 

“Oregon’s electric cooperatives have an excellent record on energy efficiency and Senator Merkley’s proposal is a good option for our consumers. We appreciate his leadership,” said Ted Case, Executive Director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association. ORECA represents 18 Oregon co-ops, serving over 200,000 members.

To borrow money to fund local energy-efficiency programs, individual co-ops or state-based groups of co-ops will apply to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) within the US Department of Agriculture.

The legislation has also received support from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.