If you’ve tracked the progress of HR 4785, then you already know the U.S. House passed a measure this afternoon that would help electric cooperatives in South Carolina and across the country postpone investing in new generation and save co-op members millions of dollars collectively on their power bills.
Members of the South Carolina congressional delegation were key to the success of the Rural Energy Savings Program Act- nicknamed Rural Star – in the House. House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, the bill’s sponsor, and original co-sponsor Rep. John Spratt were joined by Reps. Gresham Barrett and Bob Inglis, both Republicans, in support of Rural Star.
The bill now moves to the Senate. If passed, signed into law and fully funded, Rural Star would make available nearly $5 billion for low-interest micro-loans for home energy efficiency. Homeowners could apply for the loans for energy efficiency upgrades such as insulation and new heat pumps. If their homes meet program requirements, loans would pay for the work and the loan payments – which would be covered by the energy savings achieved in each home – would be included on the homeowners’ monthly power bills. Loans would be paid off within seven years.
South Carolina co-ops are hoping to pilot the program, with the goal of weatherizing 225,000 homes by 2020 and delaying an estimated $4 billion investment in a new nuclear plant.