Energy, Green Groups Call for Stimulus to Jumpstart Economy, Efficiency

Energy, Green Groups Call for Stimulus to Jumpstart Economy, Efficiency

Environmental and energy groups, including the association that represents almost 70 percent of the country's utilities, are urging swift passage of a stimulus package that includes provisions for energy efficiency programs that they say would help jumpstart an economic recovery through the creation of green jobs.

The groups made groups made their pitch to Congress before year's end as talks accelerated about the stimulus package being crafted by the incoming administration.

The proposals by the Alliance to Save Energy, Edison Electric Institute, Energy Future Coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council amount to about $33 billion.

The groups' proposals include weatherization of homes for low-income residents as well as energy efficiency retrofits for other dwellings and commercial and government buildings.

The organizations also asked that Congress free up funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, which would help states. The groups said the grants could serve as incentives and should be contingent on adoption of regulatory changes that make building codes tougher — and "major investments" in energy efficiency projects by utilities easier.

The various efficiency projects would create jobs, foster a green economy and help fuel a broader recovery, in addition to addressing environmental concerns, the groups said.

Legislation for an economic package is expected to be considered early this year.

Meanwhile, utilities are renewing their winter-time efficiency incentive programs.

In California, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company is re-offering its 10/20 Winter Gas Saving Program to small and medium-sized businesses and residential customers. Those that reduce natural gas use by 10 percent or more in January and February receive a 20 percent credit on their bill in spring. Customers managing a reduction of less than 10 percent get a one-to-one credit in spring.

PG&E serves 5.1 million electric customers and 4.2 million natural gas customers from Bakersfield to Eureka, California, and from the Pacific shore east to the Sierra Nevada.