Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s Remarks on Biden Administration’s First Home Energy Rebates Program

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Queens, N.Y.

Secretary Jennifer Granholm Announcing the Biden Administration’s First Home Energy Rebates Program in Queens, NY on May 30th, 2024.


Appreciate Yoselín [Genao Estrella]. Thank you for your leadership and everything that you are doing here in Queens to make sure that nobody is left behind. And that we consider neighborhoods, and we consider people in those neighborhoods—but particularly those who may not have the resources to be able to pay their energy bills.

Which is what we’re talking about today.

It is great to be here at Andromeda Community Initiative, a phenomenal organization that is building the workforce of the future here.

I also have to acknowledge, obviously, Governor Hochul, who has been such a great champion.

[Applause] 

And we’ll get to her in a minute. Leader Schumer is going to be joining us shortly, I know. Senior Advisor to the President, John Podesta…

[Applause]

…who has been working all of this behind the scenes. Doreen Harris of NYSERDA, who is doing great work, working in communities.

[Applause and cheers]

And I have to acknowledge my team, who are here in force. Our Under Secretary for Infrastructure, David Crane, and the whole team at DOE…

[Applause]

...our State and Community Energy Programs who have been working on this—the partnership with states—to be able to do these rebates. And I say these partnerships with states [are] so very, very critical, because this is where the action happens. States and communities. Right?

So I am—along with John Podesta—we are really proud to be here representing the President of the United States, President Biden.

[Applause and cheers]

Can I just say, you know, there’s a lot of talk about the economy and all of that. 15 million jobs created, more than any president in any time in the history of the United States, all of that. All of these factories that are popping up across America.

All of that’s true.

But the President is really obsessed with lowering costs for people. He is really obsessed with people’s pocketbooks.

So he’s trying to figure out every possible way the federal government can lower costs for people.

Maybe it’s student loans, relieving student loan debt. Maybe it is giving first-time homeowners the ability to get a down payment on a home. Maybe it’s reducing the cost of prescription drugs. Maybe it’s these junk fees. You’ve heard all these things.

Today, we’re talking about energy bills, and making sure that people have the ability to afford living in their homes.

So last month, just as an example, one in three households said that they had to forgo a basic necessity, like food or medicine, in order to pay their energy bills.

We know that making homes efficient—right?—is critical to reducing those energy costs. [Energy] efficiency is often viewed as the “first fuel,” the fuel that is the cheapest and most abundant, because you don’t have to pay for that energy at all if you don’t use it.

And over the past few decades—because of a lot of the work that’s being done at the Department of Energy and our National Laboratories—a lot of the technologies that reduce energy use are now available and on the market and being deployed, which is terrific.

We’ve got more energy-efficient appliances. We’ve got stoves that are energy efficient, we’ve got water boilers, we’ve got heat pump technology.

We’ve got broader upgrades that we are funding—from insulation of buildings, better windows, better ventilation, electric panels, all of that.

But you know, the kicker is that it often tends to be wealthier families who can afford these products. And good for the wealthy. But poor families need them and should have access to these technologies because they need them more.

And I say that because when a furnace or an air conditioner breaks down, for example, poor people—if they can find the money to come up front to replace it at all, right?—often, they will, understandably, find the cheapest alternative. And the cheapest alternative might be the least efficient alternative.

So then they end up putting those appliances in a home. And often it’s the poor whose homes are the leakiest, the least efficient overall, in terms of not having the proper insulation.

And so you perpetuate a cycle if you don’t make sure that people have the tools and the know-how to seal up their homes so that they can lower their energy bills.

Now some states, like New York, have been leading the way on this which is—bravo to you.

[Applause] 

But now you have a federal effort on the scale that’s needed to make these technologies available to all Americans.

President Biden came in and he said, “We have got to lower energy bills for people. ”

And he signed this legislation—in partnership with Senator Schumer and his leadership—a $9 billion bill that allows for states to partner with the federal government to lower people’s energy bills.

The Biden administration’s agenda here has three parts. The first part is that all taxpayers, no matter what your income level, you can qualify for credits, tax credits, on energy-efficient appliances and upgrades.

…And there he is! The man of the hour! Senator Schumer!

[Applause] 

So thanks to the senator’s shaping of this bill, this first part—having tax credits available for everybody. You can get about a 30% tax break if you install energy-efficient technology in your home. Of course, then you save on your energy bills every day after.

The second part of the agenda is that we took steps to help the lowest-income Americans weatherize their homes. So the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, one of these key bills, delivered a tenfold increase on weatherization funding—our Weatherization Assistance Program.

New York, for example, got an increase of about $300 million to be able to weatherize poor people’s homes.

And the third—today’s big news—which is to truly lay the groundwork for home efficiency across America, we need the states and the territories and the tribes in the game to help residents save money.

So that $9 billion will mean that each state now has the ability to offer low- and moderate-income homes up to $14,000 on home energy rebates for these appliances.

[Applause] 

$14,000.

And that’s off the top, at the front end, right? And then you save on your bills approximately 30% every month after that. So it’s a win-win.

So today, big announcement, is that as of today, New York is the first in the nation to launch its home energy rebates program in partnership with the federal government.

[Applause and cheers]

So New Yorkers out there, if you are interested, you should call 1-866 NYSERDA—N-Y-S-E-R-D-A!—to find out if you’re eligible and to make sure you get on the list.

Because you can have that $14,000 applied to the installation of a heat pump, for example. Or the installation of insulation or the electrical upgrades that are necessary to make it happen.

Our team will be visiting a home after this press conference that NYSERDA, through their Empower+ Program, has already done the upgrades for. And in that home, because they replaced a boiler and an oil tank with a heat pump, that homeowner is going to save $190 a month on their energy bill.

[Applause] 

$190 bucks a month. I mean, that’s a lot of money for folks, right?

$2,280 bucks a year. That is—that’s huge. That is huge.

And that’s the kind of thing we want to be able to deliver to people and to make sure that they can sleep at night.

Hotline: 866-NYSERDA.

So there are more savings to come.

New York has—this is the first step of New York’s expansion of this, their already great program. And there’ll be a second step that will expand it even further—again, with partnership with the federal government.

If you are out there nationally, and you’re wondering if your state is doing, what New York is doing, you can go to energy.gov/save and find out where your state is in the process of getting these rebates going.

We want every state to participate. Every state to follow New York’s lead. And every state to make sure that citizens have the ability to sleep at night.

To be free of worry.

To not have to choose between food or energy.

And to make sure that their home is one that is buttoned down, safe, and affordable for their families.

So with that, I want to introduce to you the leader in New York who is making this happen—because it is NYSERDA who is making this happen, but she is such a warrior on clean energy. She is a warrior on energy efficiency. Please give it up for your governor—Governor Hochul.

[Applause]


Related podcast discussion with Nina Haiman, NYSERDA Program Manager for Clean Transportation:


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