FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2009
SCHUMER: NEW CASH FOR CAULKERS COULD BE HUGE WIN FOR LONG ISLAND - CALLS ON OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO MODEL NATIONAL PROGRAM ON LANDMARK BABYLON ENERGY RETROFIT PROGRAM
Town of Babylon Created Local Home-Energy Retrofit Program and is Now Joining With Seven other LI Towns to Dramatically Expand Reach - Should Be Model for Entire Country
Schumer Calls on Obama Administration to Target New Program in Three Ways: 1) Prioritize Aid to Communities that Work Together, 2) Target Older Homes, 3) Give Funding Directly to Localities
Schumer: "Cash for Caulkers" a Win-Win-Win for Long Island: Retrofit Thousands of Homes, Cut Energy Bills and Create Jobs, Save Families Thousands of Dollars a Year on their Utility Bills
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called the Obama Administration to target its upcoming “Cash for Caulkers” program in order to promote programs similar to the Long Island Green Homes (LIGH) program -- an unprecedented effort first developed by the Town of Babylon and now being expanded to seven other towns across Nassau and Suffolk that would complete energy retrofits on thousands of homes on Long Island. Schumer will say that the new “Cash for Caulkers” program proposed by President Obama would provide billions of dollars in incentives to complete energy retrofits and weatherizations on homes across the country. Given the effectiveness of the local Long Island program, Schumer will ask the Obama Administration to craft its “Cash for Caulkers” in the model of LIGH and target funding in three ways – first, to programs where communities band together in order to cover the maximum number of homes in a given area; second, to older homes and communities where the weatherization would provide the most bang for the buck; and third, target funding directly to localities rather than through the states.
“In order to get the most bang for the buck out of Cash for Caulkers, we need to target the program to areas with the best programs, the retrofits will have the most effect, and homeowners will save the most money,” Schumer said. “Babylon has put together a time-tested program that works and should be a model throughout the country. We are fighting to ensure they receive funding to expand their program to more communities across Long Island, but even more than that, it should be a model for the entire country that will demonstrate how energy retrofits benefit homeowners, communities, and the broader economy.”
Developed and launched by the Town of Babylon (pop. 220,000), LIGH has exceeded its pilot target of retrofitting 250 homes, 350 homes have enrolled to-date, surpassing the results of many conventional home performance programs in operation across the U.S. LIGH’s municipally-administered delivery system has eliminated customary barriers by providing one-stop retrofits to homeowners for whom it is now easy to make their homes more comfortable and affordable. LIGH contractors have increased their employee rolls by 23% as traditional builders have become BPI-certified to work in the program. Tradespeople are being put to work to save homeowners money in a municipally-financed program that gets paid back, with interest.
LIGH’S success in Babylon has drawn significant attention nationwide. Through the not-for-profit Babylon Project (TBP), program development and expertise have been shared with municipalities from Montgomery County, Maryland to Portland, Oregon. TBP has provided on-going support to neighboring Brookhaven in the introduction of its own Green Homes program. A total of 8 Long Island towns, including Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Smithtown and Southampton have committed 20% from their EECBG formula allocation to provide revolving funds for the launch of their own Long Island Green Homes and Buildings programs. Formal establishment of the Consortium is dependent on securing DOE funding under this Retrofit Ramp Up application.
The LIGH Consortium today submitted an application request of $40 million to the Department of Energy for the regional initiative. According to preliminary estimates, the program could create over 2,600 jobs and would span a territory of 527,000 detached homes on Long Island. In the first three years, approximately 30,000 homes could be retrofitted, saving homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.
“The Town of North Hempstead is proud to stand with Senator Chuck Schumer who time and again leads the way in making local communities a priority,” said North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman. “This program takes a big idea and makes it work for the average American family. “
“Senator Schumer has been one of our nation’s leading advocates for investments in energy efficiency and weatherization programs which is why his support for Long Island’s Retrofit Ramp Up application is so crucial,” said Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone. “With the Senator’s support and 8 Long Island towns working together, Long Island is well positioned to become one of the centers of innovation for energy efficiency in America.”
Last week, President Obama proposed a new so-called “Cash for Caulkers” that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy. While the Administration hasn’t yet provide immediate details of the programs, early reports said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates. The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.
The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to the Senate Energy Committee. Big-ticket items like air conditioners, heating systems, washing machines, refrigerators, windows and insulation would likely be covered.
Consumers might be eligible for a 50% rebate on both the price of the equipment and the installation, up to $12,000. Homes that take full advantage of the program could see their energy bills drop as much as 20 percent.
Schumer today sent a personal letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him, as the Administration crafts its Cash for Caulkers program, to do so in a way that directs funding in three ways in order to maximize the effectiveness of the program.
First, Schumer said program should be directed to programs involving multiple localities or municipalities that band together. Schumer said that the Babylon program shows that by working with neighboring communities and pooling federal funding and other support, a greater number off homes can be retrofitted and far a greater amount of energy can be conserved over a larger geographic area.
Second, Schumer said the funding should be targeted to communities with older homes. By completing retrofits on older homes that were originally designed and constructed without energy efficiency in mind, the new upgrades can provide a maximum conservation benefit.
And finally, Schumer said at least a portion of the funding should go directly to municipalities, rather than be funneled through the states. This will ensure funding gets injected in to working programs quicker, with the desperately needed economic and environmental benefits reaped sooner.
Schumer made the announcement today at the home of Annette and Jon Foppiano of Garden City Park. According to the Foppiano’s, their home is poorly insulated and has not had new windows installed in nearly 25 years, which forces higher energy usage.
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