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Leahy, Sanders, Welch And Gov. Shumlin Announce $46 M. In USDA Guaranteed Loan For New Energy Effici

Senator Patrick Leahy, Governor Peter Shumlin and representatives of Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch were joined by United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Burlington Friday to announce a $46 million federal loan program to bolster investments in energy efficiency and renewable power projects across Vermont. Administered by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the new program will provide loans to individuals, small businesses and town governments to support a broad range of energy improvement projects. In a joint statement, Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, Congressman Welch and Governor Shumlin said: “Vermonters have long led on energy efficiency because they know it is good for the planet and for their pocketbooks. Vermonters will now have a more affordable way to improve the efficiency of their homes allowing them to spend less on energy costs. The program will create jobs in Vermont at renewable energy companies and installers.” Leahy is a leading member and former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees USDA. VEIC Executive Director Scott Johnstone said: “Our history of delivering results and driving innovations through Efficiency Vermont gives VEIC the experience, technical expertise and partnerships to leverage this loan capital, helping Vermonters access low-cost capital to complete clean energy projects,” said Scott Johnstone, Executive Director of VEIC. “We are especially excited by the potential of this program to help more low- and middle-income customers access affordable financing.” Secretary Vilsack said: “This USDA assistance will reduce barriers to energy investments by lowering the upfront costs, spreading these costs over 20 years, and by making financing more available. It also will help residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial consumers in rural Vermont reduce energy use and meet state and national energy goals.” Over the next four years, the program will be the first large-scale statewide implementation of the RUS Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP) in the country. VEIC, as the operator of Efficiency Vermont, will work with utility companies, financial institutions, contractors, public organizations and government agencies, to offer long-term, low-interest loans for consumers to make efficiency upgrades. These can include weatherization improvements, high efficiency lighting, conversion to renewable energy sources like consumer-scale solar power, and HVAC improvements. EECLP was created in 2014 by USDA under the direction of Congress, by making $250 million in loans available in its first year with the goal of creating a more sustainable domestic energy sector and reducing barriers to investment in energy efficiency. The program is expected to be launched later this year. The benefits of accomplishing these improvements include helping to reduce consumption of electricity, alleviating poverty by lowering Vermonters’ electric bills, creating good local jobs to make these improvements, improving residents’ health and wellness, improving property values, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing competitiveness of farms and businesses. These improvements are especially important for Vermont’s low and middle income households which spend higher percentages of their income on energy costs, which becomes more challenging when energy bills rise. For a link to this press release, click here.

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