Creation of Jobs Related to Energy Efficiency

With Tremendous support from Congress, both through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) and annual appropriations, we are transforming the clean energy landscape in the United States. In the Office of EnergyEfficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) alone, we are investing more than $16 billion in Recovery Act funding toward projects ranging from geothermal demonstrations in Alaska, New Mexico, and Utah to electric drive component manufacturing in Fargo, North Dakota, to large wind turbine blade testing in Boston, and the development of biorefineries in Ohio, Oregon, and elsewhere, and much more. These programs are creating jobs with investments in 56 states and U.S. Territories to encourage deployment of a full range of renewable energy sources and energy savings measures.

In addition, EERE has provided support to the Department of the Treasury for $2.3 billion of grants in lieu of tax credits for projects that are expected to deploy more than 4 gigawatts of renewable energy, and another $2.3 billion in tax credits to domestic manufacturers of clean energy products. In addition to investing in renewable technologies, EERE is engaging in a full court press on energy efficiency. As Secretary Chu is fond of saying, energy efficiency isn’t just
low -hanging fruit; it’s fruit lying on the ground. By reducing our energy consumption, we can create and support clean energy jobs, reduce our reliance on foreign sources of energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while saving money on the energy bills of everyday Americans.

HOME ENERGY RETROFITS
As you know, one of the best opportunities for energy efficiency is right in our own homes. Home energy retrofits can be a win-win-win. Consumers can win by cutting their utility bills and saving money, while getting a healthier, more comfortable living space for their families. Communities, employers, and employees can win by creating
good jobs in the retrofit industry and at manufacturers that produce energy efficiency products, spurring the local economy and putting people back to work. The Nation can win by creating jobs, reducing our reliance on energy from foreign sources, reducing our carbon emissions, and slowing the effects of climate change.

There are approximately 130 million homes in the United States. These homes account for about 33 percent of the Nation’s total electricity demand1 and consume approximately 22 percent of the Nation’s energy2 while generating 21 percent of the Nation’s overall carbon footprint. Roughly half of these homes were built before 1973, long before
modern residential building codes came into effect. With so many older homes, and with advances in building technologies, there is a tremendous opportunity to upgrade home energy efficiency by insulating; caulking; improving heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment (HVAC); tightening the building envelope; and adding other
energy efficiency improvements. Existing techniques and technologies can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home and reduce associated GHG emissions by up to 160 million metric tons by 2020. This vast potential for savings can be tapped only with a strong, well-trained American work force. The overall construction sector currently faces a 27.1 percent unemployment rate. Insulation-blowing trucks are standing idle, and many construction workers are
anxious to find ways to apply their skills to new jobs. At the same time, Americans are paying over $200 billion per year in energy costs—money that could pay for housing, tuition, or other basic necessities. As the President has said, if you saw $20 bills flying out your window, you would try to grab them. So let’s try to make it easier for American
families to prevent their hard-earned cash from flying out the doors, windows, and ceilings of inefficient homes.

CHALLENGES
To realize job creation, energy savings, and environmental benefits, making energy retrofits must be easier for homeowners. Three key barriers prevent Americans from taking advantage of cost-effective retrofits to their homes: difficulty finding information about which retrofit upgrades are best for their home; difficulty covering the up front cost
of these investments; and difficulty finding knowledgeable, skilled workers. These three barriers were outlined in the Recovery Through Retrofit strategy document released by Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force. In close collaboration with other agencies, DOE is pursuing a comprehensive approach to address these three, which includes:

  • The creation of a home energy performance labeling system in collaboration with the Recovery Through Retrofit to provide consumers with building energy information;
  • The expansion of rebate programs and appropriate financing mechanisms to provide homeowners with access to affordable mechanisms to cover the up front cost of energy efficiency improvements;
  • and The establishment of voluntary national standards for retrofit workforce training and certification to help protect consumers.

www.energy.gov Cathy Zoi

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