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Vice President Biden will today kick off five days of Administration events around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with the announcement that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of 25 communities that has been selected to receive up to $452 million in Recovery Act funding to “ramp-up” energy efficiency building retrofits. Philadelphia has been selected to receive $25 million under the Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative. These projects will bring together communities, governments, private sector companies and non-profit organizations to implement pioneering and innovative programs for concentrated and broad-based retrofits of neighborhoods and towns – and eventually entire states. These partnerships will support large-scale retrofits and make energy efficiency accessible to hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses. The models created through this program are expected to save households and businesses about a $100 million annually in utility bills, while leveraging private sector resources to create what funding recipients estimate at about 30,000 jobs across the country during the next three years.
“For forty years, Earth Day has focused on transforming the way we use energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuel – but this year, because of the historic clean energy investments in the Recovery Act, we’re poised to make greater strides than ever in building a nationwide clean energy economy,” said Vice President Biden. “This investment in some of the most innovative energy-efficiency projects across the country will not only help homeowners and businesses make cost-cutting retrofit improvements, but also create jobs right here in America.”
“This initiative will help overcome the barriers to making energy efficiency easy and accessible to all – inconvenience, lack of information, and lack of financing,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, we will make our communities more energy efficient and help families save money. At the same time, we’ll create thousands of jobs and strengthen our economy."
Project Energy Smart: Transforming the High Performance Building Retrofit Market in Southeastern Pennsylvania will accelerate the creation of a robust private retrofit market in the Greater Philadelphia Region by retrofitting thousands of commercial and residential buildings. The project takes a region-based focus designed to help impact larger percentages of buildings within target areas. The project will catalyze growth in both the supply and the demand for high performance retrofits. The program will also allow the expansion of the Expand Smart Rehab program, which includes multi-family housing. The program will be supported by a coordinated outreach and marketing campaign that includes a centralized one-stop shop for consumers. The project expects to create partnerships intended to provide banks with loan performance data, vital to facilitating low-risk opportunities for banks to participate in energy efficiency retrofit loans.
In addition to the $452 million Recovery Act investment, the 25 projects announced today will leverage an estimated $2.8 billion from other sources over the next three years to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country. Overall, the program funding was eight times oversubscribed, with more than $3.5 billion in applications received for the just over $450 million in Recovery Act funds available, indicating significant demand for investment in energy-saving and job-creating projects like these nationwide.
Grantees will employ innovative financing models to make these savings accessible, for example by offering low and no-interest loans that are repaid through property tax and utility bills. In implementing these projects, grantees will deliver verified energy savings and incorporate sustainable business models, to ensure that buildings will continue to be retrofitted after Recovery Act funds are spent. The Department will use the lessons learned from these pilot programs to develop best-practice guides to comprehensive retrofit programs that can be adopted and implemented by communities across the country.
The Retrofit Ramp-Up projects, which are part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, complement the Obama Administration’s ‘Recovery through Retrofit’ initiative, which lays the groundwork for a self-sustaining and robust home energy efficiency industry. The awards are the competitive portion of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, which was funded for the first time under the Recovery Act to help state, local, and tribal communities make strategic investments in improving energy efficiency, reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions.
Secretary Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, joined Vice President Biden today for the announcement, which was the first of more than two dozen events and activities Administration officials will participate in around Earth Day. In addition to today’s event, the President will host an Earth Day reception with environmental leaders on Thursday, April 22nd, a video message from the President will air as part of events on the National Mall on Sunday, April 25th, and Administration officials will participate in educational programs with school children, visit wetland and coastal restoration projects and participate in community service projects as part of the President’s Earth Day call to action. The events will highlight some of the ways the Administration is working to improve the environment, transform American infrastructure for greater energy-efficiency and build a clean energy economy that supports the jobs of the future.
As part of the events, Administration officials will also continue the push for Congress to act on HOMESTAR legislation and comprehensive energy and climate change legislation. A full roster of Administration Earth Day activities is below and more information on the President’s Earth Day call to action is available at www.WhiteHouse.gov/EarthDay.