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H.R. 4785 (111th): Rural Energy Savings Program Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

9/16/2010--Passed House amended. (Sec. 1) Directs the Secretary of Energy to establish a Home Star Energy Efficiency Loan Program of interest free loans to states to support financial assistance provided by qualified financing entities for the installation of qualifying energy savings measures.

Defines "eligible participant" as a homeowner with a gross annual household income of less than $250,000 who receives financial assistance from a qualified financing entity to carry out qualifying energy savings measures and who is not also a qualified consumer. Prohibits participation by a homeowner who is more than six months delinquent in child support payments.

Directs the Secretary to publish: (1) a list of appropriate residential energy efficiency measures (which shall not include the installation or replacement of pool heaters or the installation of Energy Star televisions); and (2) an energy savings verification protocol.

Sets forth eligibility criteria for qualifying financing entities.

Authorizes FY2010-FY2014 appropriations subject to the requirement that enactment of this Act would not increase direct spending.

(Sec. 2) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA), through the Rural Utilities Service, to establish the Rural Star Energy Savings Program to make interest-free loans to eligible entities for loans to qualified consumers (which may bear interest of up to 3%) to implement approved residential or farm energy efficiency measures.

Directs the Secretary to allow an eligible entity to request a special advance to defray initial startup costs.

Prohibits loans from being used to: (1) purchase a manufactured home; or (2) purchase personal property that is not attached to real property as a fixture.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) establish a measurement and verification advisory committee; and (2) maintain a directory of energy efficiency auditors.

Authorizes the Secretary to enter into agreements with qualified entities to provide technical assistance and employee training.

Prohibits the Secretary from using such authority to: (1) develop a public labeling system that rates and compares energy performance among qualified consumers; or (2) require public disclosure of an energy performance evaluation developed for any qualified consumer.

Directs the Secretary to enter into agreements with eligible entities, or groups of eligible entities, that have specified energy efficiency programs for energy efficiency loan demonstration projects that: (1) implement energy audit and investment approaches that yield measurable and predictable savings; (2) use measurement and verification processes to determine loan effectiveness; (3) provide for employee training; (4) provide for participation of a majority of eligible entities in a state; (5) reduce the need for generating capacity; (6) provide efficiency loans to specified numbers of consumers of a single entity or a group of entities; and (7) serve areas where a large percentage of consumers reside in manufactured homes or in housing units that are more than 50 years old.

(Sec. 3) Requires lenders under this Act to give priority to members of the Armed Forces on active duty and to veterans.

(Sec. 4) Prohibits the Secretary of Energy (DOE) and the Secretary of Agriculture from providing funds under this Act to any contractor that employs an employee to work in a consumer's home if that employee has been convicted of, or plead guilty to, a crime of child molestation, rape, or any other form of sexual assault.

(Sec. 5) Prohibits a loan under this Act from being provided to a federal employee who: (1) has a seriously delinquent tax debt; (2) received, but was ineligible for, a payment under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981; or (3) has been officially disciplined for viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography, including child pornography, on a federal government computer or while performing official federal government duties.

(Sec. 7) States that: (1) funds authorized by this Act shall only be made available for the purpose of carrying out qualifying energy savings measures on a primary residence; and (2) neither the Secretary of Energy nor the Secretary of Agriculture shall provide funds authorized by this Act to any contractor that has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any fraudulent offense.

(Sec. 8) States that the provisions of this Act shall be suspended and shall not apply if this Act will have a negative effect on the U.S. national deficit.