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( – promoted by Clark)


All over America, the news is spreading that long-term investment in our national infrastructure, is — amazingly — a good idea. I guess people start to wake up when bridges start to fail, schools fall apart, etc; the writing’s on the crumbling wall, so-to-speak. Rebuilding America is a trillion dollar plus project. Levees, roads, bridges.  

But while we’re in the infrastructure inventory mood, why not look at some upgrades? God knows, whenever my computer takes a dive and I’m forced to replace it, I always look to moving my specs up a notch or two, don’t you?

Current infrastructure upgrades include:

* the high-speed rail initiative catching up to technology already in wide use in other countries,

* smart grid technology creating two-way digital communication in the way we distribute energy and,

* replacing our automotive fleets and buildings with cleaner and greener options that make a real contribution toward our nation’s sustainability portfolio.

But another infrastructure upgrade, possibly the most obvious, is simply making our homes and offices more energy efficient. And this is a project that will stimulate the economy and create 2,000,000 jobs over 10-15 years. Like health care reform, infrastructure repair, energy efficiency upgrades are a trillion dollar project.

Yesterday, in Missouri, 150 concerned citizens lobbied state legislators with the common sense idea behind improving our homes to higher levels of efficiency. Politically practical approaches were laid out featuring game-changing economic initiatives to make all this improvement work and job-creation possible.

Renew Missouri and Missouri Coalition for the Environment brought together small business owners, activists, green energy experts and other stakeholders to sound these sensible arguments and deliver important information about the latest developments in energy efficiency:

Missourians Tell Legislators: Energy Efficiency Now!

New “Game-Changing” policies will save home owners money on utility bills and create thousands of in-state jobs…

Jefferson City, MO – Citizens from across Missouri convened at the State Capitol on Wednesday to urge legislators to update the state’s outdated energy efficiency policies. Participants carried signs calling for Energy Efficiency Now! while listening to state energy efficiency policy experts and Missouri home energy auditors speak of the benefits of efficiency and of legislative solutions for efficiency improvement.

PJ Wilson of Renew Missouri explained that Missouri currently ranks 41st in the country for energy efficiency, which costs Missourians millions of dollars on their electric bills each year. Missouri also has one of the nation’s fastest rising energy rates, only made worse in the struggling economy. “Energy efficiency addresses high electric bills and creates in-state jobs,” says Wilson.

PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is one of four proposed solutions. PACE is proving to be successful in 14 states and is often consider a “game-changer” for energy efficiency and renewable energy.   PACE is state-enabling legislation that allows cities to pursue bonds to pay for a revolving loan program that lends money to both commercial and residential property owners for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. It alleviates the upfront cost of efficiency and renewable upgrades by allowing home or business owners to pay for over time through an additional charge on property tax.

PACE’s revenue neutral characteristics make it an easy win for legislators and municipalities; it is already receiving bipartisan support in Jefferson City. “PACE provides a longer-term financing scheme for energy efficiency upgrades, so home-owners will make improvements with very low up-front costs. By spreading out the payments over the course of 15-20 years, the energy savings gained each month on electric bills often make the upgrades net positive from day one,” says Marc Bluestone, of Missouri Association of Accredited Energy Professionals (MAAEP).

Beyond lower electric bills, pursuing energy efficiency also increases a home’s overall value. “Homes with efficiency sell faster, spend fewer days on the market, and sell for a higher percentage of the listing price. People are starting to figure out that efficiency pays while you live in a home — and when it’s time to sell a home,” said Bluestone.

Damien Flaherty, of EnergyAudits.com and MAAEP, described the overlap of economic and security benefits of efficiency. “Currently, Missouri imports 95% of its energy resources — coal, natural gas, oil — we can’t change that geological reality. But what we can improve are the 2 million homes already built in Missouri. We can make these buildings more efficient and therefore use less imported fuels. And updating our housing stock will undoubtedly create tens of thousands of in-state jobs that can’t be outsourced or sent overseas.”

After, the citizens met with legislators throughout the day encouraging action on efficiency. The Energy Efficiency Now! rally on the Capitol steps was a part of Conservation Lobby Day, an annual event sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Votes Conservation, and the Missouri Sierra Club.

Renew Missouri recommends a suite of four “best practice” priorities, and more information can be found at http://www.RenewMo.org. Renew Missouri is a project of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, has successfully transformed renewable energy policy in Missouri with its work on the Easy Connection Act in 2007 and on Proposition C, a renewable electricity standard, in 2008.

The news of energy efficiency is spreading, and as I’ve said before, I predict that not only will every building in our country be audited and analyzed to diagnose what improvements can be made, but eventually, the idea of an energy efficiency audit and retrofit will be as commonplace as the safety and emissions test for your car — you heard it here first!