Senator Coons Reintroduces Bill to Extend Energy Efficiency Programs

U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) reintroduced updated legislation recently to strengthen and reauthorize the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and State Energy Program (SEP), two of the federal government’s most successful and long-standing energy efficiency initiatives. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) joined as a cosponsor of the Senate bill while Representative Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The House and Senate bills update the Weatherization Enhancement, and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act, first introduced by Senators Coons, Collins, and Reed in June 2013, to consolidate the competitive innovation grants authorized by the bill into the WAP. The legislation would reauthorize both programs for five more years.

“Helping our communities save energy is a common-sense way to lower energy costs, help the environment, and boost our nation’s energy security,” Senator Coons said. “For decades, the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program have been a critical part of that effort, making cost-saving, energy-efficient technologies and practices available to millions of Americans. This bipartisan bill will ensure that both landmark programs can continue to benefit American families.”

For nearly 40 years, WAP has helped low-income families make cost-saving energy efficiency upgrades and SEP has leveraged federal investment with state and local funds to increase energy efficiency and develop alternative energy sources. Congressional authorization for both programs expired in September 2012.

The Weatherization Enhancement, and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act would:

  • Reauthorize and extend the WAP and SEP through 2019;
  • Develop a competitive, leveraged grant program for non-profits that have a track record of success to access the WAP; and
  • Require minimum professional standards for WAP contractors and workers, and require an independent quality assurance program.

The legislation has been endorsed by more than 25 organizations, including the National Association of State Energy Officials, National Association of State Community Service Programs, National Community Action Foundation, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Energy Future Coalition, U.S. Green Buildings Council, Habitat for Humanity International, Rebuilding Together, Efficiency First, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. A complete list is available at http://coons.senate.gov/weatherization.

A PDF of the legislation can be downloaded here: http://1.usa.gov/1ftOeYK.

Date Posted: 2/28/2014