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

The text of the bill below is as of Sep 14, 2010 (Reported by House Committee).


IB

Union Calendar No. 335

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4785

[Report No. 111–585, Part I]

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 9, 2010

(for himself, Mr. Whitfield, Mr. Perriello, and Mr. Spratt) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

September 14, 2010

Reported from the Committee on Agriculture with amendments

Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic

September 14, 2010

Additional sponsors: Mr. Brown of South Carolina, Mr. Wilson of South Carolina, Mr. Inglis, Mr. Stupak, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Mr. Gordon of Tennessee, Mr. Pastor of Arizona, Ms. Markey of Colorado, Mr. Bright, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Roe of Tennessee, Ms. Herseth Sandlin, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Filner, Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Cuellar, Mr. Walz, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Ms. Giffords, Mr. Boswell, Mr. Rogers of Alabama, Mr. Thompson of Mississippi, Mr. Rogers of Kentucky, Mr. Hill, Mr. Salazar, Mr. Kissell, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Moore of Kansas, Mr. Wilson of Ohio, Mr. Boucher, Mr. Rodriguez, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Luján, Mr. Space, Mr. Hare, Mr. Platts, Mr. Ross, Mr. Boccieri, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Price of North Carolina, Mr. Kratovil, Mr. Thompson of Pennsylvania, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. Dingell, Mr. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Mr. McIntyre, Mr. Carnahan, Mr. Towns, Mr. Schock, Mr. Welch, and Ms. Sutton

September 14, 2010

Committee on Energy and Commerce discharged; committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

For text of introduced bill, see copy of bill as introduced on March 9, 2010

A BILL

To amend the miscellaneous rural development provisions of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to make loans to certain entities that will use the funds to make loans to consumers to implement energy efficiency measures involving structural improvements and investments in cost-effective, commercial off-the-shelf technologies to reduce home energy use.


1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Rural Energy Savings Program Act.

2.

Rural energy savings program

(a)

Purpose

The purpose of this section is to create and save jobs by providing loans to qualified consumers who will use the loan proceeds to implement energy efficiency measures to achieve significant reductions in energy costs, energy consumption, or carbon emissions.

(b)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Eligible entity

The term eligible entity means—

(A)

any public or cooperative electric utility that is eligible to borrow from the Rural Utilities Service electrification program authorized under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) that serves a rural area defined by that Act;

(B)

any current borrower of the Rural Utilities Service electrification program authorized under that Act; or

(C)

any entity primarily owned or controlled by an entity described in subparagraph (A) or (B).

(2)

Energy efficiency measure

The term energy efficiency measure, with respect to property served by an eligible entity, means a structural improvement and investment in a cost-effective, commercial off-the-shelf technology to reduce energy use.

(3)

Qualified consumer

The term qualified consumer means a consumer served by an eligible entity that has the ability to repay a loan made under subsection (d), as determined by an eligible entity.

(4)

Qualified entity

The term qualified entity means any organization that the Secretary determines has significant experience in providing eligible entities with—

(A)

advice on energy, environmental, energy efficiency, and information research and technology;

(B)

training, education, and consulting;

(C)

guidance in energy and operational issues and rural community and economic development; and

(D)

other relevant assistance, as determined by the Secretary.

(5)

Rural area

The term rural area means any area other than—

(A)

a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants; and

(B)

any urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town described in subparagraph (A).

(6)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Rural Utilities Service.

(c)

Loans to eligible entities

(1)

Loans authorized

Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary shall make loans to an eligible entity that agrees that the loan funds will be used to make loans to qualified consumers as described in subsection (d) for the purpose of implementing an energy efficiency measure.

(2)

List, plan, and measurement and verification required

(A)

In general

As a condition to receiving a loan under paragraph (1), an eligible entity shall—

(i)

establish a list of energy efficiency measures expected to decrease energy use or costs of a qualified consumer;

(ii)

prepare an implementation plan for use of the loan funds to ensure that a loan to a qualified consumer is at least commensurate with the expected energy savings the qualified consumer shall expect to receive from the activities funded by the loan; and

(iii)

provide for appropriate measurement and verification to ensure the effectiveness of the energy efficiency loans made by the eligible entity.

(B)

Revision of list of energy efficiency measures

An eligible entity may update the list required under subparagraph (A)(i) to account for newly available efficiency technologies, subject to the approval of the Secretary.

(C)

Existing energy efficiency programs

An eligible entity that, on or before the date of the enactment of this Act or within 60 days after such date, has already established an energy efficiency program for qualified consumers may use an existing list of energy efficiency measures, implementation plans, or measurement and verification systems to satisfy the requirements of subparagraph (A) if the Secretary determines the list, plans, or systems are consistent with the purposes of sub section (a).

(3)

Loan terms for loans to eligible entities

(A)

No interest

A loan made to an eligible entity under paragraph (1) shall bear no interest.

(B)

Repayment

With respect to a loan under paragraph (1)—

(i)

the term shall not exceed 20 years from the date the loan is closed; and

(ii)

except as provided in subparagraph (D), the repayment of each advance shall be amortized for a period not to exceed 10 years.

(C)

Amount of advances

Any advance of loan funds to an eligible entity in any single year shall not exceed 30 percent of the approved loan amount.

(D)

Special advance for start-up activities

(i)

In general

In order to assist an eligible entity in defraying initial start-up costs, the Secretary shall allow an eligible entity to request a special advance.

(ii)

Amount of special advance

No eligible entity may receive a special advance under this subparagraph for an amount that is greater than 4 percent of the loan amount received by the eligible entity under paragraph (1).

(iii)

Repayment

The repayment of the special advance shall be required within 10 years after the special advance is made and, at the election of the eligible entity, may be deferred to the end of the 10-year period.

(E)

Limitation on advances

All advances shall be made under a loan described in paragraph (1) within the first 10 years of the term of the loan.

(d)

Loans to qualified consumers

(1)

Terms of loans

Loans made by an eligible entity to qualified consumers using loan funds provided by the Secretary under subsection (c)—

(A)

may bear interest, not to exceed three percent, to be used by the eligible entity for purposes such as establishing a loan loss reserve and to offset personnel and program costs of the eligible entity to provide the loans;

(B)

shall finance energy efficiency measures for the purpose of decreasing energy usage or costs of a qualified consumer by an amount such that a loan term of not more than 10 years will not pose an undue financial burden on the qualified consumer, as determined by the eligible entity;

(C)

shall not be used to fund purchases of, or modifications to, personal property unless the personal property—

(i)

is or becomes attached to real property as a fixture; or

(ii)

is a manufactured home;

(D)

shall be repaid through charges added to the electric bill for the property for, or at which energy efficiency measures are or will be implemented, except that this requirement shall not be construed to prohibit—

(i)

the voluntary prepayment of a loan by the owner of the property; or

(ii)

the use of any additional repayment mechanisms that are—

(I)

demonstrated to have appropriate risk mitigation features, as determined by the eligible entity; or

(II)

required if the qualified consumer is no longer a customer of the eligible entity; and

(E)

shall require an energy audit to determine the impact of proposed energy efficiency measures on the energy costs and consumption of the qualified consumer.

(2)

Contractors

In addition to any other qualified general contractor, eligible entities may serve as general contractors.

(3)

Use of other energy efficiency incentives

Energy efficiency incentives made available under any other Act, including rebates, grants, or any other payments, may be used to reduce the amount of a loan made under this subsection to qualified consumers in order to meet the requirement of paragraph (1)(B).

(e)

Measurement, verification, training, and technical assistance

(1)

Duties of the secretary

Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall—

(A)

develop a protocol for eligible entities and qualified entities to use in measuring energy consumption and verifying the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures;

(B)

establish a measurement and verification advisory committee consisting of representatives of eligible entities and qualified entities;

(C)

enter into one or more cooperative agreements with qualified entities to provide technical assistance and training to the employees of eligible entities to carry out this section; and

(D)

establish a process to compile and maintain a directory of energy efficiency auditors that are used by eligible entities to carry out this section.

(2)

Exception

(A)

The Secretary shall not utilize the authority provided under this subsection or subsection (k) to—

(i)

develop, adopt, or implement a public labeling system that rates and compares the energy performance among qualified consumers; or

(ii)

require the public disclosure of an energy performance evaluation or rating developed for any qualified consumer.

(B)

Nothing in this paragraph shall preclude—

(i)

the computation, collection, or use, by the Secretary, eligible entity, or qualified entity for the purposes aggregating information on the rating and comparison of the energy performance among qualified consumers with and without energy efficiency features or on energy performance evaluation or rating;

(ii)

the use and publication of aggregate data (without identifying individual qualified consumers) based on information referred to in clause (i) to determine or demonstrate the performance of this program; or

(iii)

the provision of information referred to in clause (i) with respect to a qualified consumer:

(I)

to the State, eligible consumer, eligible entity, or qualified entity, as necessary to enable carrying out this Act; or

(II)

for purposes of prosecuting fraud and abuse.

(f)

Fast start demonstration projects

(1)

Demonstration projects required

The Secretary shall enter into agreements with eligible entities (or groups of eligible entities) that have established an energy efficiency program described in subsection (c)(2)(C) to establish an energy efficiency loan demonstration projects consistent with the purposes of this section that—

(A)

implement approaches to energy audits and investments in energy efficiency measures that yield measurable and predictable savings;

(B)

use measurement and verification processes to determine the effectiveness of energy efficiency loans made by eligible entities;

(C)

include training for employees of eligible entities, including any contractors of such entities, to implement or oversee the activities described in subparagraphs (A) and (B);

(D)

provide for the participation of a majority of eligible entities in a State;

(E)

reduce the need for generating capacity;

(F)

provide efficiency loans to—

(i)

not fewer than 20,000 consumers, in the case of a single eligible entity; or

(ii)

not fewer than 80,000 consumers, in the case of a group of eligible entities; and

(G)

serve areas where a large percentage of consumers reside—

(i)

in manufactured homes; or

(ii)

in housing units that are more than 50 years old.

(2)

Deadline for implementation

The agreements required by paragraph (1) shall be entered into not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

(3)

Effect on availability of loans nationally

Nothing in this subsection shall delay the availability of loans to eligible entities on a national basis beginning not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(4)

Additional demonstration project authority

The Secretary may conduct demonstration projects in addition to the project required by paragraph (1). An additional demonstration project may be carried out without regard to subparagraphs (D), (F), or (G) of paragraph (1).

(g)

Additional authority

The authority provided in this section is in addition to any authority of the Secretary to offer loans under any other law.

(h)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary $993,000,000 to carry out this section, which shall remain available until expended.

(i)

Effective period

Subject to subsection (h)(1) and except as otherwise provided in this section, the loans and other expenditures required to be made under this section are authorized to be made during each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014.

(j)

Reporting requirement

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate and the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives a report describing the implementation of this section.

(k)

Regulations

(1)

In general

Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall promulgate such regulations as are necessary to implement this section.

(2)

Procedure

The promulgation of the regulations and administration of this section shall be made without regard to—

(A)

chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code (commonly known as the Paperwork Reduction Act); and

(B)

the Statement of Policy of the Secretary of Agriculture effective July 24, 1971 (36 Fed. Reg. 13804), relating to notices of proposed rulemaking and public participation in rulemaking.

(3)

Congressional review of agency rulemaking

In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall use the authority provided under section 808 of title 5, United States Code.

(4)

Interim regulations

Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), to the extent regulations are necessary to carry out any provision of this section, the Secretary shall implement such regulations through the promulgation of an interim rule.

(l)

Audit of program

The Secretary shall conduct an audit of the program authorized by this section to ensure that the funds provided to eligible entities under this section are used in accordance with the purpose of this section.

Amend the title so as to read: A bill to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to make loans to certain entities that agree that the funds will be used to make loans to consumers to implement energy efficiency measures involving structural improvements and investments in cost-effective, commercial off-the-shelf technologies to reduce energy use, and for other purposes..

September 14, 2010

Committee on Energy and Commerce discharged; committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed