A. Donald McEachin

09/11/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/11/2019 13:33

McEachin, Barragán, Jayapal, Luján, Duckworth, Booker Introduce Legislation to Make Solar Energy More Affordable for Low Income Families

Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM-03), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Low-Income Solar Energy Act. This legislation expands the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to create new financing programs, provides Section 8 homeowner's interest free loans and much more. In Virginia, the solar industry employs nearly 4,000 people and produces enough solar energy to power over 87,000 homes.

'Our country must transition to a clean energy economy and increase access to renewable energies for all Americans,' said Congressman A. Donald McEachin. 'That is why our legislation is so important: the Low-Income Solar Energy Act will make it easier for low-income individuals and affordable housing residents to use solar energy. I am pleased to introduce this legislation with my colleagues, including Senator Duckworth, Senator Booker, Congresswoman Barragán, and Congresswoman Jayapal, co-chairs of our bicameral task force committed to environmental justice. It is appropriate that the first bill we have introduced together will increase energy affordability and help protect our planet for future generations.'

'All Americans-regardless of whether they have good credit, own a home, or live in multi-family building-deserve to be able to access solar energy,' said Senator Tammy Duckworth. 'I'm proud to be introducing this legislation with Senator Booker and Congressman McEachin that would make it easier for low-income Americans to use solar energy and lower their utility bills, which will help our nation reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, combat climate change and decrease air pollution.'

The Low Income Solar Energy Act would:

  • Expand the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to include up to 25 percent solar in the program and makes large investments in the program.
  • Direct the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to create financing programs to help low-income families access solar, such as interest buy downs, grants and loan guarantees. Eligible expenses include roof repair, the cost of installation and community solar subscriptions.
  • Provide Section 8 homeowner's interest free loans to install solar and make related infrastructure improvements while ensuring the savings from solar energy are reinvested in low income families.
  • Allow public housing authorities to enter into third party agreements with solar companies and ensures the money tax payers save is reinvested into these families.
  • Update the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules on utility allowances to ensure that savings from solar energy does not lead to commensurate increases in rent.
  • Require DOE to create a solar workforce program that invests in underrepresented groups in the solar industry including women, Veterans, unemployed energy workers and formerly incarcerated individuals.

McEachin is a co-founder of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force, along with U.S. Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07). Duckworth and Booker joined U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) in announcing the creation of the Senate's first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus this past Earth Day to call Congress' attention to the many environmental justice issues affecting our nation.

This bill is supported by Grid Alternatives, Elevate Energy, Vote Solar, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club.

Full bill text can be found here.

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