Transformative Legislation for Small Business Sustainability and Economic Resilience Introduced in Congress

Transformative Legislation for Small Business Sustainability and Economic Resilience Introduced in Congress

The Alliance to Save Energy News

Transformative Legislation for Small Business Sustainability and Economic Resilience Introduced in Congress

Release Date: Thursday, August 5, 2021


WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the Main Street Efficiency Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), following introduction in the House (H.R. 4903) last Friday by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The legislation will build economic resilience in small businesses across the country and support the transition to a decarbonized economy by providing low- and no-cost energy efficiency retrofits through a new Department of Energy grant program, with an emphasis on reaching minority-owned businesses.

“The Main Street Efficiency Act allows our nation’s small businesses to focus on building back after a difficult year rather than worrying about just keeping the lights on,” said Alliance President Paula Glover. “I’m especially excited about the progress this bill makes toward closing the ‘efficiency gap,’ which can leave communities of color and low-income communities with high energy burdens and limited ability to afford energy efficiency improvements. By helping small businesses and minority-owned businesses make energy efficiency upgrades, the Main Street Efficiency Act ensures they build back stronger with permanent energy cost savings and a healthier, more environmentally-friendly space.”

“The Main Street Efficiency Act gives us the ability to make vital, lasting financial investments in our nation's small businesses, while also tackling the climate crisis head on. It’s commonsense: allowing small businesses to participate in energy saving and demand response programs at little to no-cost is good for those businesses, good for local jobs, and good for our planet. By saving on energy costs, these businesses can invest in their workforce – and by reducing their carbon footprints, these businesses are investing in the health and safety of their communities,” said Rep. Welch, a member of the Alliance to Save Energy’s Honorary Board of Advisors.

“As Nevada recovers from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, this grant program would help small businesses become more sustainable and make much-needed energy efficiency upgrades without having to shoulder the costs themselves,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “I’ll continue to focus on commonsense solutions that help combat climate change and allow our small businesses to focus on providing good-paying jobs and stimulating our economy.”

Energy costs can be one of the top operating expenses for small businesses. While many U.S. utilities offer incentives to help small businesses make energy efficiency upgrades – allowing tens of thousands of dollars to be saved annually on energy bills – many small business owners still cannot afford the upfront cost despite the fact that upgrades more than payback in the long run. The Main Street Efficiency Act helps to close this cost gap and ensure that the full value of energy savings stays in small business owners’ pockets by matching existing utility incentives with a Department of Energy grant program. Learn more about the program and review the House bill text. Highlights include:

  • Reduces carbon emissions by 40 million metric tons – the equivalent of nearly 5 million home’s annual energy use
  • Ensures funds reach the businesses most in need by prioritizing grants to utilities that serve diverse small businesses or work with diverse suppliers
  • Creates 60,000 jobs over three years, largely at small contractors completing energy efficiency services
  • Invests federal funds wisely by complementing, rather than superseding, existing private-sector incentives

“This landmark legislation builds on a long, successful history of Demand Side Management programs that utilities, in partnership with companies like Willdan, have delivered to Main Street businesses – the backbone of our economy which sadly remain the hardest hit, slowest to recover, and most vulnerable. By covering the business’s portion of the costs of projects that upgrade their facilities and permanently lower their energy costs, this bill will drive up participation rates and accelerate utility DSM program investments in small businesses. Decades of data and real-world experience show that program participation rates skyrocket when the projects are offered at no-cost to the customer, and that the savings generated by the projects are typically redirected by small businesses into hiring and the expansion of operations.” said Adam Procell, the Chief Strategy Officer of Willdan and an Alliance Board member.

The Alliance to Save Energy is calling on Congress to include this legislation in any infrastructure package under consideration.

“The Alliance fully supports the Main Street Efficiency Act and its champions in Congress – my sincerest thanks to Congressman Welch and Senator Cortez Masto. I urge Congress to not miss this unparalleled opportunity for small business recovery and climate action, and the Alliance will be fighting hard to ensure this game-changing legislation reaches the president’s desk,” said Glover.

About the Alliance to Save Energy

Founded in 1977, the Alliance to Save Energy is a nonprofit, bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders working to expand the economy while using less energy. Our mission is to promote energy productivity worldwide – including through energy efficiency – to achieve a stronger economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security, affordability, and reliability.


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