Clinton Seeks to Warm Up New Hampshire With New Energy Savings Plan
A day after the close Iowa caucuses, she’s rolling out plans to boost efficiency in homes and buildings nationwide.
Hillary Clinton unveiled plans Tuesday to save energy in American homes and buildings, an initiative that her campaign said would save money for families in New Hampshire, where Clinton trails Bernie Sanders in most polls ahead of next week’s primary.
The wide-ranging proposal would, according to Clinton’s campaign, cut annual energy costs for homes and businesses nationwide by over $70 billion, saving the average household about $600 per year.
Many residents in the northeast—including New Hampshire—rely on costly heating oil and often pay higher natural gas prices too. Clinton’s campaign estimates that the plan would save families in New Hampshire $900 annually.
The plan sets an overall goal of cutting energy waste in homes, schools, businesses, hospitals, local government offices and other buildings by a third within 10 years.
The plan includes grants for several state- and local-government energy efficiency initiatives aimed at homeowners and commercial buildings, drawing from the “Clean Energy Challenge” program that Clinton has previously announced.
One portion would provide grants to phase out the use of heating oil and propane boilers and furnaces, and replace them with cleaner sources, which would also help shield consumers from oil price spikes, the plan states.
Other grants would fund state and city efforts to: enhance building codes; help low-income households cut energy costs; streamline permitting and knock down other barriers to wider adoption of energy efficiency tools, such as programs that help consumers time their power usage to periods of lower demand and cheaper costs. That helps prevent the need for use of dirtier power plants during high demand.
Another portion is aimed at providing energy consumers information that helps them conserve, such as expanding the federal EnergyStar appliance labeling program. Clinton would also “extend” the Energy Department’s appliance and equipment efficiency standards.
Her campaign called the efficiency platform a compliment to Clinton’s earlier proposals on expanding renewable electricity generation. “We also need to cut energy consumption, which will save families and businesses money and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change,” the new plan states.
One promising avenue, the plan argues, is ensuring that energy efficiency is built into the home mortgage market.
“Residential efficiency improvements, whether in new or existing homes, can significantly reduce a household’s monthly energy bills, yet federal mortgage agencies do not take this into account in determining the value and affordability of home loans they underwrite. Clinton would fix this shortcoming, and work with companies like Zillow and Trulia to make expected energy cost information easily available to prospective buyers,” the plan states.
Elsewhere, the plan seeks to cut energy use at local government buildings, schools, universities and hospitals via grants for retrofits and modernizing, and use of the “national infrastructure bank” that she has proposed (although proposals by Obama and others for such a bank have not been successful in Congress to date).
The announcement comes a day after Clinton scored a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucus and ahead of next Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire.
The plan is the latest step in Clinton’s phased rollout of her environmental and energy platform.
But Sanders has also emphasized energy efficiency and aid with home heating costs in the Senate, where he’s a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and in his own campaign platform.
Sanders’ energy and climate plan notes his sponsorship of legislation to help provide loan financing for home efficiency upgrades, support for existing federal weatherization assistance and low-income home heating aid programs, and other efforts.
Boosting efficiency is an important way to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. And conservation generally enjoys more bipartisan support than Democratic efforts to restrict drilling and impose EPA carbon emissions mandates.
Still, Clinton would need money from Congress for the “Clean Energy Challenge” program that would fund certain provisions of the plan, a campaign aide said.
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