Merkley Bill to Lower Energy Costs

Merkley Bill to Lower Energy Costs

Legislation Based on Oregon Idea Provides Financing Tools for Retrofits

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 programs.

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 completed.”

“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.