Home Star Update

Thu, 2010-05-27 14:16

Here’s the latest update from the National Save Energy Coalition.  The Home Star bill is now in the Senate and will hopefully be approved soon without major revisions. Once approved it will take a few months for the department of energy to work out the implementation so I am hopefull that we will see the program roll out by early-mid Fall time frame.

1. Climate Webinar – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”) provided a “down payment” for state and local efficiency programs, distributed renewable energy, and low-income weatherization. In the Northeast, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has invested millions in energy efficiency and other clean energy programs. Home Star, Building Star, and other jobs legislation being considered this year may carry this investment forward. What happens in a couple years when these programs are over? Climate and energy legislation provides one opportunity to provide sustained funding to carry the building efficiency and distributed renewable energy forward, but it is not guaranteed. Join us in our next climate webinar to learn to what extent the climate and energy legislation in the US Senate would help us build on the progress we’ve made so far and how you can ensure that it provides the sustained funding needed. Register here!


2. Home Star Advocacy Day Report – Thanks to all those who attended the Advocacy Day and the over 40 businesses that reported calling in to support from home! Last week, over 100 business leaders in the energy efficiency industry converged on Capitol Hill to advocate for the swift passage of Home Star in the Senate. Leaders met with nearly ½ of all Senate offices, conveying the message that Home Star can jump start an industry facing depression level unemployment and that contractors all over the country are ready to put Home Star dollars to use creating jobs and saving energy. Importantly, they also told Senate staff that many consumers are waiting for the rebates to close deals. Simply put, the Senate needs to pass Home Star soon or not at all. Staffers from the offices of Senators Bingaman and Warner, the two main torch bearers of Home Star in the Senate, discussed the political outlook with the group. The said finding a source of funding is currently the main stumbling block, and they assured us they are working hard to find one. The group asked how businesses can best support the effort, and staffers made it clear that we must maintain and increase our level of communication with Senate offices. Hearing from businesses made the difference to bring on a number of co-sponsors, and it can make the difference for passage, too!


3. Next Steps in Senate for Home Star – We expect the Senate Finance Committee to take up Home Star, and in preparation the Home Star Coalition has scheduled meetings with nearly all members of the committee. The outlook for co-sponsors looks brighter in the Finance Committee than in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which could have taken up the bill instead. We will still need your help to secure these co-sponsors, so look for Calls to Action in the coming week. There is a short Memorial Day Recess during which we will need to be very active. In the best case scenario, our efforts will ensure that Senate leadership includes Home Star in the next viable legislative package (e.g. jobs bill) and that it comes to the floor for a vote within weeks. That could put a bill on the President’s desk by Independence Day. Of course, this is an optimistic timeline, and we’ll need your help to realize it.


4. Murkowski Resolution to Block EPA GHG Regs -  Senator Murkowski (R-Alaska) is sponsoring a resolution to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The resolution has almost no chance of becoming law, because President Obama would have to sign the resolution that he has openly opposed it. Why is the resolution important then? The vote could be seen as a test of support for broader carbon regulation, like that proposed in the American Power Act by Senators Kerry and Lieberman. On the other hand, many Senators may support the resolution simply because they believe that Congress, not an agency, should regulate carbon. Senator Murkowski counts 41 supporters so far, three of them Democratic, and the measure will need 51 votes to pass. Senate Majority leader Reid (D-Nevada) has agreed to bring the resolution up for debate on June 10th. Stay tuned to see how this is resolved.