U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Jeff Merkley Introduce Bill to Lower Americans’ Energy Bills, Create Jobs, Reduce Carbon Pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. [09/05/2019]—This week, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)—along with Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—introduced legislation that would help families lower monthly energy bills, reduce wasted energy and carbon pollution, and create good-paying jobs.

The Community Energy Savings Program Act of 2019 (CESP) would provide low-interest financing to consumers who want to make energy efficient upgrades to their homes. These upgrades are good for public health and the environment, and would help create good-paying jobs across America through the manufacturing and installation of materials used in the projects.

“Our country can lead or we can follow when it comes to the clean energy transition. I want us to lead, and one way we can do that is by making it easier for families in Minnesota and across the country to make home improvements that save energy,” said Sen. Smith. “The cheapest and cleanest energy is the energy that you don’t ever need to buy through saving on utility bills, and I hope more of our colleagues join us in this effort.”

“Lots of families in my blue collar neighborhood would love to reduce their energy bills, but don’t have the cash flow to make the up-front investments in better insulation, tighter windows, or a more efficient boiler,” said Sen. Merkley.  “If we give them low-cost loans that can be repaid from their savings on their utility bills, it’s not just good for them, it’s good for all of us.  With this bill we can put more money in working families’ pockets, create good jobs, and help cut the pollution that is driving droughts, wildfires, and vicious storms.”

You can access a summary of CESP here and the full legislative text here.

Last year, Sen. Smith—a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee—laid out a legislative roadmap for the energy section of the strong, bipartisan Farm Bill. Her Agricultural Energy Programs Reauthorization Act was a strong marker for the future of federal ag energy policies, and significantly strengthened energy programs that have seen success in the Farm Bill, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). She also introduced legislation to support the development of energy storage technology. And this year, Sen. Smith led a bipartisan effort with Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel producers by creating additional incentives for utilities to install carbon capture and storage technology. Sen. Smith introduced her bipartisan Promoting Grid Storage Act of 2019 in May, which would boost research and development of cutting-edge technologies to increase energy storage capabilities for America’s electric grid and enable the expanded use of clean energy. Sen. Smith is also a cosponsor of several other bipartisan pieces of climate legislation that were unveiled earlier this year, and in July Sens. Smith, Angus King (I-Maine), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) introduced legislation to boost the use of cutting-edge technologies to increase energy efficiency capabilities across American. In addition, this spring Sen. Smith introduced the Clean Energy Standard Act, which would establish a federal Clean Energy Standard (CES), to put our nation on course to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury to fight climate change.