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Funding will boost construction, create clean energy jobs

(Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today announced that the New Hampshire Beacon Communities Project will receive $10 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to make residential, commercial, municipal, and industrial buildings in Berlin, Nashua, and Plymouth more energy efficient. The funding was announced today by Vice President Joe Biden as part of the Department of Energy's Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, an effort to increase energy efficiency building retrofits in 25 communities nationwide.

"New Hampshire has made great progress in weatherizing and making buildings more energy efficient, and this funding will help expand these efforts in a meaningful way," said Shaheen. "This will help consumers save on their energy bills over time, and create construction jobs in these three communities. We must continue to invest in these types of programs to create jobs and take control of our energy future."

The Beacon Communities funding will be used to support large-scale retrofits and make energy efficiency accessible to homeowners and businesses in Berlin, Nashua, and Plymouth. The project includes a statewide revolving loan fund to finance residential retrofits at favorable rates and public outreach efforts.

The Retrofit Ramp-Up projects, which are part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy-efficiency, complement the Obama Administration's ‘Recovery through Retrofit' initiative, which lays the groundwork for a self-sustaining and robust home energy efficiency industry.  The awards are the competitive portion of DOE's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, which was funded for the first time under the Recovery Act to help state, local, and tribal communities make strategic investments in improving energy efficiency, reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions. 

In January, Shaheen, along with Representatives Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter, wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu in support of the project. The full text of the letter follows:

January 28, 2010

The Honorable Steven Chu

U.S. Department of Energy

1000 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Chu,

We are writing to express our strong support for the Retrofit Ramp-up grant submitted by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning for $20 million to make significant energy improvements in three New Hampshire communities and stimulate private investment in energy efficiency. 

New Hampshire's Beacon Communities proposal develops a sustainable and replicable approach to making energy efficiency retrofits.  By investing in energy efficiency across sectors, the project will demonstrate the practical difference that increased energy efficiency will make for citizens, businesses and local governments.  The approach will establish new partnerships and engage new stakeholders to improve energy efficiency and strengthen communities.

The Beacon Communities project will implement energy retrofits in three communities, Berlin, Plymouth and Nashua, New Hampshire.  Each community was selected through a highly competitive application process and brings retrofit needs and learning opportunities to the project.  Deep improvements in these three locations will form a base of knowledge and experience that can be applied to future projects in New Hampshire and across the country.

New Hampshire is the ideal place to pilot this type of community-based program.  The state is home to energy expert non-profits like the Jordan Institute, willing electric utilities, and strong, independent cities and towns that form the backbone of the society.  The state government recently became the first to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources, and, over the past two years, 90 communities have formed Local Energy Committees to address energy use and efficiency issues.

The State of New Hampshire has also dedicated financial resources to energy improvements.  As a participant in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, New Hampshire has dedicated auction revenues to investments in energy efficiency.  Funds from Alternative Compliance Payments used to meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard and a systems benefits charge through the electric utilities support renewable energy and energy efficiency project throughout the state.  A Retrofit Ramp-up grant will help leverage these existing investments alongside additional private and public dollars.

The Beacon Communities project will implement deep energy efficiency improvements across multiple building sectors in three representative communities across our state.  We fully support the Office of Energy and Planning's application and urge your careful consideration of this very worthy project.


U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Representative Paul Hodes

Representative Carol Shea-Porter