Merkley bill aims to boost 'green' jobs, manufacturing

Merkley bill aims to boost 'green' jobs, manufacturing

Would provide grants to states for energy-efficient retrofits

WASHINGTON - Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) announced Wednesday the introduction of the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act in both the U.S. Senate and House.

The lawmakers said their bill would create jobs and save money for manufacturers by putting people to work retrofitting manufacturing facilities to be more energy efficient.

Energy efficiency investments are job multipliers. Because retrofitting work can’t be outsourced and more than 90% of the materials used are made in the United States, energy efficiency investments help to grow American jobs and the economy.

“I’ve said all along: if we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America,” said Merkley. “Investing in energy efficiency retrofits for manufacturers is a great way to create jobs now, make our manufacturers more competitive, and reduce energy waste.”

“Strengthening manufacturing in the U.S. must be one of our top economic priorities. Investing in energy efficiency manufacturing will help revitalize and modernize the American industrial and manufacturing sector while reducing energy costs and helping the environment,” said Cartwright.

The potential energy savings in the industrial and manufacturing sector are huge, the men said.

With investments in cost-effective energy efficiency measures, the industrial sector could reduce its $200 billion annual energy bill by 25 percent by 2020.

Not only that, but the industrial sector has the largest portion of cost-effective savings, accounting for 40% of the $1.2 trillion in wasted energy that could be saved across all sectors of the economy by 2020.

By investing in energy efficiency, the American manufacturing sector will save money on energy costs which can be reinvested in modernizing facilities, hiring new workers and making American manufacturing more competitive., Merkley and Cartwright said.

Investments in energy-efficient upgrades to manufacturing facilities will also create work for contractors and businesses in the construction sector that retrofit the buildings.

According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, every $1 million invested in energy efficiency supports approximately 20 jobs in the construction industry, which is among the most labor-intensive sectors and was hit hard during this recent recession.

The legislation would authorize $250 million in funding to a Financing Energy Efficient Manufacturing Program at the U.S. Department of Energy.

That program would provide competitive grants to states to fund new or expanded industrial energy efficiency financing programs.

These state programs could provide various forms of financing, but typically provide low-cost loans to manufacturers to help cover the up-front cost of energy efficient retrofits. The businesses can then pay back the loan through the savings on their energy bills.

Over the last several years, Merkley has visited and heard from manufacturers around the state in his ongoing “Made in Oregon” tour.