Expanded grant funding proposed for energy conservation projects

Members of the Revenue Committee heard testimony on a bill Feb. 26 that would expand assistance under the Low-Income Home Energy Conservation Act.

Currently, eligible entities may apply for grants to fund energy conservation improvement projects under the act. The entities are required to deposit $50,000 with the state Department of Revenue before receiving matching funds.

LB978, introduced by Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, would allow an eligible entity to apply for up to $50,000 in grant funding without depositing the matching funds with the state. Harr said it would incentivize consumers to upgrade their homes.

“This represents a common-sense approach to helping residential customers to reduce their energy bills,” he said. “It would enable more customers to benefit from energy efficiency upgrades.”

The bill would define an eligible entity as a public power district, rural public power district, electric cooperative, nonprofit corporation organized for the purpose of furnishing electric service, joint entity organized under the Interlocal Cooperation Act or a municipality.

The benefits would expire on Jan. 1, 2016.

Scott Kleeb of Energy Pioneer Solutions testified in support of the bill. He said making necessary improvements can be cost prohibitive for many homeowners.

“Of those that go ahead and get [an energy audit] completed, only 2 percent actually make the improvements,” he said. “This is a really elegant way the citizens of Nebraska can improve their energy efficiency.”

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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