Alliance Hails Unprecedented Infusion of $20+ Billion in Recovery Package Focused on Making U.S. Economy More Energy Efficient | Alliance to Save Energy

Alliance Hails Unprecedented Infusion of $20+ Billion in Recovery Package Focused on Making U.S. Economy More Energy Efficient

Release Date: Friday, February 13, 2009

Washington, D.C., February 13, 2009 – The Alliance to Save Energy today hailed Congress’ unprecedented infusion of more than $20 billion into energy efficiency programs that will create jobs and cut carbon emissions while helping to lift the faltering U.S. economy. Congress included the funds in its consensus economic recovery package that is moving towards enactment into law.

The Alliance estimates that the energy efficiency measures in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) could create more than 100,000 jobs over the next two years and, over the life of the measures, reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 200 million metric tons.

The Alliance also commended Congress for extending, expanding, and simplifying federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy efficiency home improvements and for breaking new ground on utility regulatory reform and stronger energy building codes.

“Today’s ‘avalanche’ of funding for energy efficiency results from policy makers’ understanding that immediate and lasting benefits will accrue not only to our economy but also to our national security and to the world’s environment from deployment of this important, ‘home-grown’ resource,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “The strategic investment of federal funds in energy efficiency projects will create jobs and lower energy bills for consumers and businesses throughout our economy. And as we collectively lower our energy use, we also will put a dent in global climate change and enhance our nation’s energy security.

“ARRA is a bold first step in moving our nation from the ‘dark ages’ of excessive energy use, in which we currently are the least efficient of all industrialized economies, to becoming the most efficient,” Callahan continued.

“Furthermore, the expansion of federal income tax credits for homeowners will enable more consumers to afford energy efficiency upgrades that will lower their home energy bills – which we project to reach about $2,150 per U.S. household this year – while increasing the comfort and lowering the carbon footprint of their homes,” Callahan said.

ARRA extends the consumer tax benefits for another year, through 2010; triples the total available tax credit from $500 to $1,500; and increases the tax credit to 30 percent of the cost of each qualified energy efficiency improvement.

Alliance Director of Policy Lowell Ungar noted, “The significant boost in weatherization funding will provide desperately needed relief from unnecessarily high energy bills for residents of low-income housing. And the new funding for utility and building code initiatives will encourage states to move decisively on energy efficiency.”

The Alliance said the following ARRA provisions do the most to advance energy efficiency:

  • $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which will go a long way in meeting President Obama’s goal of weatherizing one million homes per year while creating an estimated 32,000 jobs in the auditing and retrofitting industries;
  • $4.5 billion to make 75 percent of federal buildings more energy efficient;
  • $3.1 billion for the State Energy Program (SEP), which delivers important energy efficiency services and innovations in every state; the language contains incentives for states to adopt utility regulatory reform and stronger building energy codes; this program has the needed infrastructure to quickly absorb the new funding and create new jobs;
  • $300 million for state matching grants for rebates to consumers who purchase higher-tier energy-efficient appliances;
  • $3.2 billion for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) that will allow state and local governments to aggressively implement energy efficiency programs;
  • $400 million of the EECBG funds to be awarded on a competitive basis; and
  • More than $8 billion for state and local government investments in public transportation.

“We look forward to working with governors, state energy offices, citizens groups, utilities, and consumers across America to help achieve this bill’s vast potential to deploy energy efficiency, keep more money in the pockets of consumers and businesses, and improve our environment,” said Alliance Director of Government Relations Brad Penney.