White House "Ramps Up" Retrofits Spending
Vice President Joe Biden marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with the announcement of the selection of 25 communities for up to $452 million in Recovery Act funding to “ramp-up” energy efficiency building retrofits. As part of a Department of Energy initiative, governments, private sector companies and non-profit organizations will work together on a variety of programs for concentrated and broad-based retrofits of neighborhoods and towns.
With programs expected to begin in the fall, the 25 projects will leverage an estimated $2.8 billion from other sources, in addition to the $452 million in stimulus funds. The White House says the initiative will lead to hundreds of thousands of home and business retrofits across the country over the next three years.
"For forty years, Earth Day has focused on transforming the way we use energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuel—but this year, because of the historic clean energy investments in the Recovery Act, we're poised to make greater strides than ever in building a nationwide clean energy economy," said Vice President Biden. “This investment in some of the most innovative energy-efficiency projects across the country will not only help homeowners and businesses make cost-cutting retrofit improvements, but also create jobs right here in America."
“This initiative will help overcome the barriers to making energy efficiency easy and accessible to all—inconvenience, lack of information, and lack of financing,” added Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, we will make our communities more energy efficient and help families save money. At the same time, we’ll create thousands of jobs and strengthen our economy."
Grantees will employ innovative financing models under the 25 programs, offering low- and no-interest loans that are repaid through property tax and utility bills, the Department of Energy reports. In implementing these projects, grantees will deliver verified energy savings and incorporate sustainable business models to ensure that buildings will continue to be retrofitted after Recovery Act funds are spent. DOE plans to use the lessons learned from these pilot programs to develop best-practice guides to comprehensive retrofit programs that can be adopted and implemented by other communities across the country.