Sunday, February 25, 2018

Obama's Budget Proposal Transfers $46 Billion From Non-Renewables To Energy Efficiency

On Monday, the Obama Administration released its newly-minted budget proposal which appeared to emphasize energy efficiency as the main catalyst toward a clean energy economy. In fact, an estimated $46 billion over 10 years resulting from the termination of 12 tax breaks for oil, gas, and coal is intended to fund clean energy and energy efficiency programs. Furthermore, President Obama proposed a new Clean Energy Standard (CES) stipulating that 80% of the nation’s future electricity will come from “clean energy” sources by 2035. This effectively doubles the existing standard which was set at 40%.

In an e-mail to its members, The National Save Energy Coalition (http://www.nationalsaveenergycoalition.org/) provided the following summary of energy efficiency measures outlined by the Obama Administration’s budget proposal:

  • The Better Building Initiative – would work to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade by catalyzing private sector investments through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial and institutional buildings.
  • Home STAR – would build on investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus) and would encourage American families to make energy savings upgrades in their homes through a series of tax incentives and rebates totaling $6 billion.
  • Energy Star – The EPA program would receive an additional $3 million (to $56 million) to enhance compliance and verification of Energy Star products and to strengthen residential and commercial building programs.
  • PowerSaver Loan Guarantee Pilot – the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) at Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would initiate the PowerSaver loan guarantee pilot program, offering homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy efficiency improvements of their choice including insulation, duct sealing, doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.

Electric vehicles also received attention in President Obama’s budget. In 2008, President Obama announced his goal to put 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2015. With this new budget, his “1 million EVs by 2015” goal will receive renewed support by improving consumer rebates, investments in research and development, and a $200 million competitive program to encourage communities that invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.

For those in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries as well as residential and commercial real estate owners, the Obama Administration’s planned budget symbolizes a renewed hope. Hope that our political leaders have the foresight to focus their eye on the future of energy. With their help, we, as a nation, can continue to steer a course that leads toward a future of sustainability and prosperity.