June 24, 2020

Van Hollen, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Cut Energy Costs for Homeowners and Save Energy Efficiency Jobs

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), along with U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help save energy efficiency jobs during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The bill also includes rebates to help homeowners retrofit their homes to cut their monthly energy costs, stimulate the energy efficiency market for jobs and suppliers, and help protect the environment by investing in clean, efficient technology. 

The energy efficiency industry – which employed more than 2.3 million Americans prior to the pandemic – has been hit hard by COVID-19, shedding more than 400,000 jobs since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Energy efficient retrofits save consumers nearly $800 billion each year on their energy bills and are responsible for more than $540 million in public health benefits annually. This bipartisan legislation will help the energy efficiency sector retain jobs and invest in much-needed training to create new opportunities in the workforce. This is vital at a time when as more than 45 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. 

“As the COVID-19 pandemic levels an attack on our country’s job market and businesses, the Congress must provide relief so that American workers and companies can weather the storm. This plan is a triple win – it will help more Americans keep their jobs, create new opportunities for those who are unemployed, and lower energy costs for families in need of savings right now. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bicameral bill to provide both much-needed short-term relief and invest in our long-term goal of moving to cleaner, more sustainable, and efficient energy sources. I urge the House and Senate to include this innovative energy efficiency plan in the next round of emergency relief legislation,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

“As we reopen our economy and society, Congress has a responsibility to meet the immediate needs of today and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. This legislation helps us do just that by stimulating urgently-needed job creation, while investing in long-term, sustainable solutions to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs for American homeowners,” said Senator Shaheen. “This is bipartisan, commonsense legislation that I believe lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can get behind.” 

“Small businesses are struggling with harsh new realities during the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Coons. “The residential energy efficiency sector is no exception, with contractors losing work during stay-at-home orders. This bipartisan proposal will spark new workforce development opportunities, incentivize reemployment, and stimulate a sector crucial to addressing climate change.” 

“The energy efficiency sector has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Representative Welch. “This legislation is critical to provide immediate assistance to a green jobs industry devasted by the pandemic, while making long term investments to encourage home efficiency and strengthen the green economy. This practical, bipartisan idea is a win-win-win for green jobs, homeowners, and the environment.”  “The energy sector has been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill adds immediate assistance by helping create jobs, while investing in long-term solutions on reducing energy cost for homeowners. Job creation across all energy sectors is going to help our economy get back to where it was before the health and economic crisis. This legislation is just commonsense and a win for the environment and economy,” said Representative McKinley. 

The HOPE for HOMES Act of 2020 will:

  • Create rebates for homeowners to invest in energy efficiency improvements, including:
    • $800 to add insulation to their home.
    • $1,500 for adding insulation and replacing part of their HVAC system.
    • $2,000 for retrofits that lead to savings of 20-40% of whole-house energy use.
    • $4,000 for retrofits that save at least 40% of whole-house energy use.
    • Doubling the rebate amount for moderate income families.
  • Authorize $500 million in grants to help develop training curriculums and assist companies in providing financial incentives to contractors to undertake online training to advance their capabilities to efficiently retrofit homes.
  • Provide $1,000 per employee rehired, up to $10,000 total, to contracting companies willing to cover the costs of training and technology upgrades needed to achieve online learning.
  • Provide a $1,000 stipend to contractors who complete the HOPE Training and are prepared to advance their careers and help homeowners with home retrofits.

A fact sheet on the bill is available here. Full text of the bill is available here.