H.R. 1807: Residential Energy and Economic Savings Act

113th Congress, 2013–2015. Text as of Apr 26, 2013 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO and Cato Institute Deepbills

I

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1807

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 26, 2013

(for herself,Mr. Blumenauer, andMs. Lee of California) introduced the following bill; which was referred to theCommittee on Energy and Commerce

A BILL

To establish a grant program to assist retail power providers with the establishment and operation of energy conservation programs using targeted residential tree-planting, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the The Residential Energy and Economic Savings Act or the TREES Act .

2.

Findings

TheCongressfinds that—

(1)

the utility sector is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States today, producing approximately one-third of the country’s emissions;

(2)

heating and cooling homes accounts for nearly 60 percent of residential electricity usage in the United States;

(3)

shade trees planted in strategic locations can reduce residential cooling costs by as much as 30 percent;

(4)

strategically planted shade trees can provide significant carbon benefits both directly (sequestration by the growing tree) and indirectly (reductions in carbon emissions from electricity conservation);

(5)

trees can reduce the rate and magnitude of stormwater runoff and improve surface water quality;

(6)

trees reduce topsoil erosion, prevent harmful land pollutants contained in soil from getting into our waterways, slow down water run-off, and ensure that our groundwater supplies are continually being replenished; and

(7)

trees strategically placed on or near residential property can increase a home’s property value.

3.

Definitions

As used in this Act:

(1)

The termnonprofit tree-planting organizationmeans any organization described in section 501(c)(3)of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986(26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)), that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code(26 U.S.C. 501(a)), which exists, in whole or in part, to—

(A)

expand urban and residential tree cover;

(B)

distribute young trees for planting;

(C)

increase awareness of the environmental and energy-related benefits of trees;

(D)

educate the public about proper tree planting, care, and maintenance strategies; or

(E)

carry out any combination of the foregoing activities.

(2)

The termretail power providermeans any entity authorized under applicable State or Federal law to generate, distribute, or provide retail electricity, natural gas, or fuel oil service.

(3)

The termSecretarymeans the Secretary of Energy.

(4)

The termStatemeans each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and each commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.

(5)

The termtree-siting guidelinesmeans a comprehensive list of science-based measurements outlining the species and minimum distance required between trees planted pursuant to this Act, in addition to the minimum required distance to be maintained between such trees and—

(A)

building foundations;

(B)

air conditioning units;

(C)

driveways and walkways;

(D)

property fences;

(E)

preexisting utility infrastructure;

(F)

septic systems;

(G)

swimming pools; and

(H)

other infrastructure as determined appropriate.

4.

Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to assist retail power providers with the establishment and operation of targeted residential tree-planting programs, for the following purposes:

(1)

Reducing the peak-load demand for electricity in residential areas during the summer months through direct shading of residential buildings provided by strategically planted trees.

(2)

Reducing wintertime demand for energy in residential areas by blocking cold winds from reaching homes, which lowers interior temperatures and drives heating demand.

(3)

Protecting air quality and public health by removing harmful pollution from the air.

(4)

Utilizing the natural photosynthetic and transpiration process of trees to lower ambient temperatures and absorb carbon dioxide, thus mitigating the effects of climate change.

(5)

Lowering electric bills for residential ratepayers by limiting electricity consumption without reducing benefits.

(6)

Relieving financial and demand pressure on retail power providers that stems from large peak-load energy demand.

(7)

Protecting water quality and public health by reducing stormwater runoff and keeping harmful pollutants from entering waterways.

(8)

Promoting community education, involvement, and stewardship of much-needed tree canopy coverage in residential communities.

5.

General authority

(a)

Authority

TheSecretarymay establish a grant program to provide financial, technical, and related assistance to retail power providers to support the establishment of new, or continued operation of existing, targeted residential tree-planting programs.

(b)

Public recognition initiative

In addition to the authority provided undersubsection (a), theSecretarymay also create a national public recognition initiative to encourage participation in tree-planting programs by retail power providers.

(c)

Cooperation

In carrying out the grant program established pursuant tosubsection (a), theSecretarymay cooperate with, and provide financial, technical, and related assistance for such cooperation to, State foresters or equivalent State officials.

(d)

Requirements for qualified tree-Planting programs

In order to qualify for assistance under this Act, a retail power provider shall, in accordance with this Act, establish and operate, or continue operating, a tree-planting program that meets each of the following requirements:

(1)

The program shall provide free or discounted shade-providing or wind-reducing trees to residential consumers interested in lowering their home energy costs.

(2)

The program shall optimize the electricity-consumption reduction benefit of each tree by planting in strategic locations around a given residence.

(3)

The program shall either—

(A)

provide maximum amounts of shade during summer intervals when residences are exposed to the most sun intensity; or

(B)

provide maximum amounts of wind protection during fall and winter intervals when residences are exposed to the most wind intensity.

(4)

The program shall use the best available science to create and utilize tree-siting guidelines which dictate where the optimum tree species are best planted in locations that ensure adequate root development and that achieve maximum reductions in consumer energy demand while causing the least disruption to public infrastructure, considering overhead and underground facilities.

(5)

The program shall provide tree recipients with tree planting and tree care instruction and education prior to or in conjunction with delivery of free or discounted trees.

(6)

The program shall receive certification from theSecretarythat it is designed to achieve the goals set forth inparagraphs (1) through (5). In designating criteria for such certification, theSecretaryshall collaborate with the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program to ensure that certification requirements are consistent with such goals.

(e)

New program funding share

TheSecretaryshall ensure that no less than 30 percent of the funds made available under this Act are distributed to retail power providers which—

(1)

have not previously established or operated qualified tree-planting programs; or

(2)

are operating qualified tree-planting programs which were established no more than three years prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

6.

Agreements between retail power providers and nonprofit tree-planting organizations

(a)

Grant authorization

In providing assistance under this Act, theSecretaryis authorized to award grants only to retail power providers that have entered into binding legal agreements with nonprofit tree-planting organizations.

(b)

Conditions of agreement

An agreement between a retail power provider and a nonprofit tree-planting organization undersubsection (a)shall set forth conditions under which such nonprofit tree-planting organization shall carry out a targeted residential tree-planting program. Such conditions—

(1)

shall require the organization to participate in a local technical advisory committee in accordance withsection 7; and

(2)

may require the organization to—

(A)

coordinate volunteer recruitment to assist with the physical act of planting trees in residential locations;

(B)

undertake public awareness campaigns to educate local residents about the benefits, cost savings, and availability of free shade trees;

(C)

establish education and information campaigns to encourage recipients to maintain their shade trees over the long term;

(D)

serve as the point of contact for existing and potential residential participants who have questions or concerns regarding the tree-planting program;

(E)

require tree recipients to sign agreements committing to voluntary stewardship and care of provided trees;

(F)

monitor and report on the survival, growth, overall health, and estimated energy savings of provided trees up until the end of their establishment period which shall be no less than five years; and

(G)

ensure that trees planted near existing power lines will not interfere with energized electricity distribution lines when mature, and that no new trees will be planted under or adjacent to high-voltage electric transmission lines without prior consultation with the applicable retail power provider receiving assistance under this Act.

(c)

Lack of nonprofit tree-Planting organization

(1)

In general

If a qualified nonprofit tree-planting organization does not exist or operate within areas served by retail power providers applying for assistance under this Act, the requirements of this section shall apply to binding legal agreements entered into by such retail power providers and one of the following entities:

(A)

Local municipal governments with jurisdiction over the urban or suburban forest.

(B)

Conservation districts.

(2)

Cooperative agreements

With respect to an area described inparagraph (1), a local municipal government or conservation district that enters into a binding legal agreement with a retail power provider pursuant to such paragraph may, to fulfill the conditions of such binding legal agreement, enter into a cooperative agreement with a not-for-profit organization in such area that exists in whole, or in part, to meet the goals and objectives described insubparagraphs (A) through (E) of section 3(1).

7.

Technical advisory committees

(a)

Description

In order to qualify for assistance under this Act, a retail power provider shall consult with the nonprofit tree-planting organization with which it has entered into a binding legal agreement undersection 6and State foresters or equivalent State officials to establish a local technical advisory committee which shall provide advice and consultation to the applicable tree-planting program. The advisory committee may—

(1)

design and adopt an approved plant list that emphasizes the use of hardy, noninvasive tree species and, where geographically appropriate, the use of native or low water-use shade trees or both;

(2)

design and adopt planting, installation, and maintenance specifications and create a process for inspection and quality control;

(3)

ensure that tree recipients are educated to care for and maintain their trees over the long term;

(4)

help the public become more engaged and educated in the planting and care of shade trees;

(5)

prioritize which sites receive trees, giving preference to locations with the most potential for energy conservation and secondary preference to areas where the average annual income is below the regional median; and

(6)

assist with monitoring and collection of data on tree health, tree survival, and energy conservation benefits generated under this Act.

(b)

Compensation

Individuals serving on local technical advisory committees shall not receive compensation for their service.

(c)

Composition

Local technical advisory committees shall be composed of representatives from public, private, and nongovernmental organizations with expertise in demand-side energy efficiency management, urban forestry, or arboriculture, and shall be composed of the following:

(1)

Up to 4 persons, but no less than one person, representing the retail power provider receiving assistance under this Act.

(2)

Up to 4 persons, but no less than one person, representing the nonprofit tree-planting organization which will partner with the retail power provider to carry out this Act.

(3)

Up to 3 persons representing local nonprofit conservation or environmental organizations. Preference shall be given to those organizations which are organized under section 501(c)(3)of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and which have demonstrated expertise engaging the public in energy conservation, energy efficiency, or green building practices or a combination thereof, such that no single organization is represented by more than one individual under this subsection.

(4)

Up to 2 persons representing a local affordable housing agency, affordable housing builder, or community development corporation.

(5)

Up to 3, but no less than one, persons representing local city or county government for each municipality where a shade tree-planting program will take place and at least one of these representatives shall be the city or county forester, city or county arborist, conservation district forester or functional equivalent.

(6)

Up to one person representing the local government agency responsible for management of roads, sewers, and infrastructure, including public works departments, transportation agencies, or equivalents.

(7)

Up to 2 persons representing the nursery and landscaping industry.

(8)

Up to 2 persons, but no less than one person, representing State foresters or equivalent State officials.

(9)

Up to 3 persons representing the research community or academia with expertise in natural resources or energy management issues.

(d)

Chairperson

(1)

In general

Each local technical advisory committee shall elect a chairperson to preside over Committee meetings, act as a liaison to governmental and other outside entities, and direct the general operation of the committee.

(2)

Eligibility

Only committee representatives undersubsection (c)(1)orsubsection (c)(2)shall be eligible to act as a local technical advisory committee chairperson.

(e)

Credentials

At least one of the members of each local technical advisory committee shall be certified with one or more of the following credentials: International Society of Arboriculture; Certified Arborist, ISA; Society of American Foresters Certified Forester; Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist, ISA; Certified Arborist Utility Specialist, ISA; Board Certified Master Arborist; or Landscape Architect recommended by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

8.

Cost-share program

(a)

Federal share

The Federal share of support for any tree-planting program funded under this Act shall not exceed 50 percent of the cost of such program and shall be provided on a matching basis.

(b)

Non-Federal share

The non-Federal share of such costs may be paid or contributed by any governmental or nongovernmental entity other than from funds derived directly or indirectly from an agency or instrumentality of the United States.

9.

Rulemaking

(a)

Rulemaking period

TheSecretaryis authorized to solicit comments and initiate a rulemaking period that shall last no more than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

(b)

Competitive grant rule

At the conclusion of the rulemaking period undersubsection (a), theSecretaryshall promulgate a rule governing a public, competitive grants process through which retail power providers may apply for Federal assistance under this Act.

10.

Nonduplicity

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to supersede, duplicate, cancel, or negate the programs or authorities provided under section 9 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978(16 U.S.C. 2105).

11.

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriatedsuch sums as may be necessary to carry outthis Act .