The Mountain Times

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Wyden, Sanders introduce bill to reduce energy use, lower home utility costs

On June 20, Senators Wyden (D-Ore.), and Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation that will reduce energy use by helping homeowners install energy efficiency retrofits to their homes.

The Residential Energy Savings Act of 2013 (S. 1200) provides homeowners with access to low-cost loans for energy efficiency retrofits, by offering loans to states and tribes through U.S. Department of Energy in cooperation with local utility companies and lenders.

"While energy efficiency retrofits save money in the long-run, homeowners often can't afford to bear the full up-front cost of these home improvements on their own," Wyden said. "This bill encourages public-private partnerships and takes the risk out of the up-front costs, giving homeowners the assurance they need to make energy-saving investments in their homes."

"Our bill will save people money and help reduce energy use. It's good for the pocketbook and it's good for fighting global warming," Sen. Sanders said.

The bill gives states a high level of flexibility to design their own financing programs, does not mandate participation and does not preference certain efficiency upgrades over others.

The bill requires the DOE to provide loans to states and tribes to establish local residential efficiency programs. To be eligible for funding, states and tribes will need to show their programs will address:

•    The projected reduction in energy use
•    The leveraging of non-federal dollars
•    The availability of on-bill repayment and other consumer-friendly financing innovations

Wyden is the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sanders is a senior member of the committee.