Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that on May 6, 2010 the House, by a vote of 246-161, passed H.R. 5019, the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010. Backed by President Obama, the bill contains several measures that will facilitate energy conservation in homes across the nation; create more jobs in the home construction and remodeling industries; promote domestic energy efficient products and equipments; and offer financing for homeowners to improve energy efficiency in homes.
“I am pleased that this piece of legislation will continue support for families across the nation and the U.S. Territories. Every day, families are facing tough choices in the current economic crisis. The bill that the House passed will go a long way toward reducing energy and utility costs and help those struggling to make ends meet,” Faleomavaega said.
Depending on their needs, a family in American Samoa could receive rebates in one of the two separate tracks available under this bill. For simple upgrades, rebates are available under the Silver Star track. A family could receive up to $3,000 worth of discounts for the installation of specific energy-saving materials including insulation, duct sealing, windows and doors, air sealing, and water heaters. For more comprehensive retrofit work, rebates are available under the Gold Star track. Up to $8,000 in discounts are available to do a wide-ranging energy audit and to install a full complement of energy-efficient measures for the entire home.
Financing is also available to help families pay for energy-efficient improvements in their homes. Federal funds are available to qualified banks or financing institutions to shore up their lending programs to help families pay for energy savings projects.
Overall, H.R. 5019 fulfills several policy objectives. In addition to cutting energy and utility costs for families across the country, it will also promote energy-efficient equipments and materials that are manufactured in the United States. Moreover, increase in demand for retrofit works and remodeling services will provide substantial opportunities for employment in the construction and remodeling industries.
“Much remains to be seen on how certain measures of H.R. 5019 are to be administered and implemented for American Samoa. For one thing, the Department of Energy is to select a qualified rebate aggregator in the Territory to distribute rebates to eligible applicants and also receive reimbursements from the federal government. I suspect that the Territorial Energy Office is to serve in this role,” Faleomavaega noted.
“Similarly, another measure requires that contractors that do retrofit works and remodeling services are to be trained or become certified under the Home Star program. Otherwise, they are to receive prior authorization from the Secretary of Energy. Finally, there is also a provision that provides for local government to institute some sort of quality assurance program to check retrofit works and remodeling services funded under the rebate program”
“To ensure smooth transition overall, H.R. 5019 gives authorization to the Secretary of Energy to issue regulations as necessary. My hope is for the Secretary at some point during the rulemaking process to consult with the American Samoa Government to ensure that there is efficient implementation of the Territory’s rebate program,” Faleomavaega said.
“I am glad nevertheless that the federal government is doing its share to help families save on their energy bills, and also create more jobs in the Territory and throughout the United States. The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 is now on its way to the Senate for its consideration and I will continue to follow this matter closely,” Faleomavaega concluded.