Press Releases

Sens. Warner, Bingaman, Graham, and Snowe Co-sponsor Bipartisan HOMESTAR Energy Legislation

~ Consumer savings and job creation through residential energy retrofits ~

May 28 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) announced today that he is the chief sponsor, along with Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), of bipartisan Senate legislation that will provide targeted incentives for homeowners who make energy efficiency investments in their homes. The Senate bill, which was introduced yesterday, is similar to legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The HOMESTAR Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 will provide up to $6 billion in time-limited incentives to American homeowners, combined with private-sector investment, to retrofit an estimated three million homes over two years. Economists and industry experts estimate it also will create or maintain more than 150,000 U.S. manufacturing and construction jobs.

A summary of the Senate legislation can be found here, and the bill can be viewed here.

“HOMESTAR can create tens of thousands of ‘green’ jobs while also achieving substantial reductions in our nation’s overall energy use,” Senator Warner said. “Consumers participating in the program could save an estimated $200 to $500 per year on their residential energy bills even as they’re taking steps to increase the overall value of their homes,” Senator Warner said. “With unemployment in the construction industry near 25% and with substantial underutilized capacity in our nation’s manufacturing industries, we have a large pool of skilled workers and certified contractors who are anxious to get back to work,” Senator Warner added.

Key components of the HOMESTAR Program, which has the support of the White House and leading business and industry organizations nationwide, include:

Rebates delivered directly to consumers: Consumers would be eligible for direct HOMESTAR rebates at the point-of-sale for a variety of energy-saving investments in their homes. A broad array of vendors, from small independent building material dealers, large national home improvement chains, energy efficiency installation professionals and utility energy efficiency programs (including rural utilities) would market the rebates, provide them directly to consumers and then be reimbursed by the federal government.

Oversight to ensure quality installations: The HOMESTAR program would require that contractors be certified to perform efficiency installations. Independent quality assurance providers would conduct field audits within 30 days after work is completed to ensure proper installation so consumers receive energy savings from their upgrades. States would oversee the implementation of quality assurance to ensure that the program is moving the industry toward more robust standards and comprehensive energy retrofit practices.

Support for financing: The HOMESTAR program would include support to state and local governments to provide financing options for consumers seeking to make efficiency investments in their homes. This will help ensure that consumers can afford to make these investments.

“HOMESTAR is a comprehensive and compelling proposal to address one of the most important opportunities we have to boost private sector employment and demand for durable goods while cutting both consumer energy costs and greenhouse gases," said Senator Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "As Congress considers additional ways to shore up our economic recovery and to accelerate new hiring, I hope this bill’s broad impact and support help it become law.”

“Energy efficiency has been identified as the most cost effective method to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, cut carbon emissions, and save money for consumers on their energy bills," Senator Snowe said. "HOMESTAR catalyzes energy efficiency into action and includes long-term tax incentives to make their homes state of the art. With Mainers spending the most per capita on residential energy expenditures and living in the least efficient housing stock in the country, I am encouraged that this proposal will spur an industry that will be dedicated to improving America’s energy security. I appreciate the leadership of Senators Bingaman, Warner, and Graham and look forward to working with them to enact this proposal into law.”

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