Obama touting home energy efficiency program as way to create jobs, help families save money

By Julie Pace, AP
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obama touting home energy efficiency program

WASHINGTON — Hoping to jump-start his plans for job growth, President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to pass incentives for homeowners who retrofit their homes to make them more energy-efficient.

The president planned to visit a Home Depot store in Northern Virginia on Tuesday to make the case that outfitting houses to be more energy-efficient will create jobs and save families money on their energy bills. It’s the fourth time in less than two weeks that the president will preside over a high-profile jobs event, as he calls attention to his efforts to bring down the nation’s double-digit unemployment rate.

Last week, the president proposed a new spending plan that would provide tax breaks for energy-efficient retrofits in homes. The plan also calls for small business tax cuts and new spending on highway and bridge construction. The administration hasn’t put a price tag on the plan, but it could cost more than $150 billion.

The White House hopes the appeal of the retrofitting program — which some administration officials have dubbed Cash for Caulkers — will be similar to the now-expired Cash for Clunkers program, which offered rebates for trading in used vehicles for more fuel-efficient ones. At a White House jobs summit earlier in the month, Obama told Home Depot chairman Frank Blake that home improvement companies would be key partners in this program.

Obama has also proposed expanding stimulus initiatives that promote energy efficiency and clean energy jobs. Currently, about $8 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package goes toward energy-saving investments in homes. The White House has said investments like installing insulation, sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment will pay for themselves many times over.

In a memo for the president, Vice President Joe Biden said stimulus spending and other initiatives will lead to 1 million home energy-efficiency retrofits by 2012. The report also said the U.S. is on track to double renewable energy generation, including solar, wind and geothermal, in three years.

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