Bennet Applauds Creation of USDA Energy Efficiency Loan Program

Program Builds on Bennet-Backed Measure in Congress

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today applauded the announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will take new steps to save consumers money on their energy bills in partnership with rural electric cooperatives. USDA will provide up to $250 million to rural electric cooperatives to lend to business and residential customers for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems.

The program builds on a provision Bennet helped advance in Congress and secure in the Senate-passed Farm Bill. The Rural Energy Savings Program (RESPA) Act, which Bennet also helped introduce last Congress, would allow the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to authorize low interest loans for rural homeowners and small businesses to do energy efficiency retrofits.

“Colorado’s rural communities are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to save money and use those savings to build their businesses and grow their local economies,” Bennet said. “This program will help families and small businesses reduce their energy use and save thousands of dollars in utility bills. It will also help create thousands of jobs in Colorado and across the country.”

Funding will be provided to rural electric cooperatives and utilities – the majority of which already have energy efficiency programs in place – who will then re-lend the money to help homeowners or businesses make energy efficiency improvements. In addition to energy audits, the loans may be used for upgrades to heating, lighting and insulation, and conversions to more efficient or renewable energy sources.

The Rural Energy Savings Program Act was part of Bennet’s strategy to promote energy efficiency in homes and businesses, which also includes the bipartisan SAVE Act and Better Buildings Act.

Click here for more information on USDA’s announcement.