Merkley Amendment to Bolster Local Energy Efficiency Programs Passes Senate

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 unanimously.

 “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 stronger.