Shaheen Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Provide Certainty Around Federal Investments in Weatherization and State Energy Programs
(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jack Reed (D-RI) in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to improve delivery of weatherization assistance, as well as encourage state-driven energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives that reduce energy costs for low-income households, spur private sector energy innovation and improve emergency planning and response. The Investing in State Energy Act would prevent undue delays in distributing grants through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP) to state agencies and local partners that implement energy initiatives.
“Weatherization and state energy projects are two of the most effective vehicles to invest in clean energy, but too often delays occur that prevent these dollars from getting out the door. That’s why I’m pleased to reintroduce my legislation to provide resources to ensure the swift delivery of grants that support weatherization and local clean energy projects. Streamlining this process will ensure communities can effectively leverage investments in our clean energy future – supporting our economy and protecting our planet for generations to come,” said Senator Shaheen.
“The high cost of home heating oil is causing many families tremendous hardship as they try to keep their homes warm this winter. It is particularly challenging in states like Maine, which has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation with uninsulated attics and leaky windows that waste energy,” Senator Collins said. “The Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program are proven, cost-effective ways to permanently reduce energy usage and cut low-income Americans’ utility bills for the long-term. I have long championed funding for these successful programs, and our bipartisan bill would help ensure that these investments get out the door quickly so that Americans can make upgrades to affordably heat their homes.”
“Congress must provide state agencies and local partners with the resources needed to ensure that every Delawarean has access to the reliable, affordable energy they deserve,” said Senator Coons, co-Chair of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. “That’s why I’m proud to once again cosponsor the Investing in State Energy Act to help residents in the First State keep their homes livable and energy costs low. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this commonsense, bipartisan bill that will help deliver innovative and cost-effective clean energy projects to homes across the country.”
For more than 40 years, these assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have provided technical and financial assistance to states, tribal governments and U.S. territories to encourage the adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency practices and technologies.
The Weatherization Assistance Program enables income-eligible families, older adults, veterans and individuals with disabilities to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, freeing up limited resources for other essentials like food and medicine. The State Energy Program provides cost-shared resources directly to the states for allocations by the governor-designated State Energy Office to support energy projects, such as energy emergency planning and response, private sector innovation in clean energy and state-driven energy infrastructure modernization.
The Investing in State Energy Act would direct the DOE to provide application guidance and publish expected WAP and SEP allocations to states within 60 days of enactment of appropriations for the programs and distribute funding to states and other recipients as quickly as practicable. By requiring the publication of expected WAP and SEP awards, the Investing in State Energy Act will ensure states, tribes and other entities have the information they need in order to effectively plan for expected funding. The ability to conduct such planning encourages local high-impact projects that serve families in need and allows states to continue to make good use of critical resources to meet their energy goals.
Congress provided the highest level of funding for these programs in more than a decade through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and regular Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations, including a total of more than $20 million for New Hampshire in Weatherization funding and more than $4 million for New Hampshire’s State Energy Program. Shaheen was a lead negotiator on the bipartisan infrastructure law and serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Energy. In the bipartisan infrastructure law, Shaheen successfully included key provisions of her energy efficiency bill – the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) – with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). She also included the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act, the Promoting American Energy Jobs Act and the Heat Efficiency through Applied Technology (HEAT) Act. A targeted version of the ESIC legislation was signed into law by President Obama in 2015, and a number of provisions relating to energy efficiency in schools, industry and the federal government were signed into law as part of the Energy Act of 2020. Shaheen also supported historic investments in clean energy and climate projects through the Inflation Reduction Act. These measures will create good-paying jobs, lower energy costs for households, reduce harmful pollution, support small businesses and boost domestic manufacturing through clean energy technologies.
The text of the Investing in State Energy Act can be read here.