05/02/14 : Kelsey LaFreniere

A Look Back: The Recovery Act and Energy Efficiency

This is the second in a series of posts about the Administration's strong and successful efforts on energy efficiency. The last post focused on CAFE standards.

At the beginning of President Obama’s first term the United States faced a number of challenges, including the worst recession in a generation. In early 2009, the Recovery Act—the $800 billion economic stimulus package—was signed into law. The Recovery Act was designed to help the economy in the short term, but the Administration also wanted to ensure that the stronger post-recession economy was built on American manufacturing and technology, fueled by American energy sources. And since the cleanest, cheapest, and most reliable energy source is the energy that isn't used, the Recovery Act allocated more to energy efficiency—$32 billion—than any other single law in U.S. history. In total, approximately one-third of the energy-related funds in the package were allocated to energy efficiency.

Included under those energy efficiency programs was the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG program), which was authorized in 2007 but funded for the first time by the Recovery Act. The EECBG program allocated competitive grants to cities, counties, and states to help them develop, implement, and manage energy efficiency and conservation programs—allowing local communities to design the energy efficiency programs that work best for their unique circumstances, and spreading the benefits of energy productivity nationwide.

The Recovery Act also increased funding and expanded eligibility criteria for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps low-income families make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. In just over two years, the expanded Weatherization Program helped more than 650,000 families save an average of $437 a year on energy bills.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, which will focus on the Green Button Initiative.