Main Street Efficiency Act of 2021
Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, accounting for nearly half of the nation’s employment (60.6 million) and GDP. The economic crisis caused by COVID-19 spared no sector, but hit small businesses the hardest. In fact, more small businesses were closed at the end of June 2021 than at any time during the pandemic. Additionally, the energy efficiency workforce – the vast majority of which is employed by small businesses – was immediately and indefinitely sidelined due to health and safety restrictions. Throughout the pandemic, more energy efficiency workers lost their jobs than in any other segment of the clean energy workforce.
Working with impacted stakeholders, the Alliance identified a means of rapidly kickstarting the U.S. economy by delivering energy savings to small businesses, by small businesses with the Main Street Efficiency Act of 2021. The legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont (H.R. 4903) and in the Senate by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada (S. 2665). Find current House co-sponsors here and Senate co-sponsors here.
What does the main street efficiency act do?
The Main Street Efficiency Act would establish a grant program at the Department of Energy to make energy efficiency improvements in small businesses across the United States, reducing their utility bills right away and long into the future. The federal funding would be delivered to small businesses through utility Demand Side Management (DSM) programs, allowing taxpayer dollars to be highly leveraged with utility incentives and enabling low- to no-cost upgrades. By utilizing the DSM workforce infrastructure that already exists, the program also would renew and/or create jobs within the 1.3 million-strong workforce that supports these DSM programs.
Benefits of the MAIN STREET EFFICIENCY ACT
- Small businesses can receive zero-cost equipment and energy efficiency upgrades, which will help them recover from the economic shutdown by lowering their utility bills immediately and well into the future. Read stories from across the U.S. on how energy efficiency benefits small business owners.
- Energy consumption in America’s small businesses, which can account for 40-50% of a utility's commercial load, will be reduced.
- The ecosystem of DSM energy service providers, electricians, and skilled and unskilled labor, which represents a workforce of approximately 1.3 million across the nation, can recover and expand.
- The health, safety, comfort, and productivity of occupants of small commercial spaces will be improved.
- The program will help the overall economy to recover by lowering demand and increasing energy productivity.
- It will help states meet increasingly aggressive goals for energy demand and carbon emissions reductions.
Learn more about MSEA
- Watch a Sept. 2021 policy perspectives session with Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and other Main Street Efficiency Act supporters on the importance of the legislation
- Read the House bill text as introduced by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
- Read stories of how energy efficiency upgrades benefit small business owners
- Send a letter to your representative in support of the Main Street Efficiency Act
- Read letters from Main Street supporters to members of Congress:
Read op-eds published on the Main Street Efficiency Act:
- Wilmington Star News op-ed by Willdan Chief Strategy Officer Adam Procell and J. Michael Hutson, a small business owner, on the importance of passing Main Street
- Everett Herald op-ed by a local Habitat for Humanity director explaining how energy efficiency upgrades helped his store bounce back from COVID-19's impacts
- Utility Dive op-ed by Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John Di Stasio, President of the Large Public Power Council, on the Small Business Energy Efficiency Grant proposal
- Read an Alliance blog taking a close look at the legislation, including a case study on one restaurant in Vermont that saved 50% on its annual energy bills through efficiency upgrades
- Watch an EE Global Forum 2021 session with Alliance Honorary Board Member Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on the Main Street Efficiency Act.
- Review which organizations endorsed the Small Business Energy Efficiency Grant program, a proposal on which the Main Street Efficiency Act of 2021 was based
- Learn how devasting the COVID-19 pandemic has been on efficiency jobs in the Department of Energy's latest U.S. Energy Employment Report