Budzinski, Clyburn Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Rural Energy Savings Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC-06) introduced the Rural Energy Savings Act of 2023 to reauthorize the Rural Energy Savings Program in the 2023 Farm Bill. First included in the 2014 Farm Bill, the Rural Energy Savings Program provides interest-free loans to electric cooperatives and other utilities which they then lend to consumers to make affordable, energy efficiency improvements to their homes or businesses. 

“Energy efficiency programs are a vital tool in combating rising energy costs,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “I’m proud to introduce legislation with Assistant Democratic Leader Clyburn that will help us to continue supporting rural electric cooperatives and utilities that give families access to reliable, clean energy without breaking the bank. This approach is essential in making the transition to a clean energy economy while lowering costs for consumers.”

“As the original sponsor of the legislation that established the Rural Energy Savings Program in 2010, I have a great deal of pride in this program and the good that we have accomplished. What started as a homegrown idea in South Carolina has evolved into a critical lifeline for rural families nationwide over the last 13 years. The small, but significant, improvements we are proposing will extend a much needed helping hand to more Americans,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Clyburn.

“We appreciate the support of Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski for this important program,”said Craig Sondgeroth, President/CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric

Cooperatives. “Enhancing this program creates an additional resource for electric cooperative members and rural communities throughout Illinois.”

Commonly referred to as “Rural Star,” RESP has created jobs and helped financially-strapped families save money on their energy bills. The Rural Energy Savings Program is administered by the USDA Rural Utilities Service, which has made at least 37 RESP loan awards worth nearly $300 million to utilities in 18 states since 2016. Previously reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill with minimal changes, this current reauthorization effort seeks to make RESP more accessible and attractive for rural utilities and related entities.

The program is particularly effective for rural families who do not qualify for weatherization assistance but lack the resources to invest in insulation or other improvements on their own. The proposed policy changes would help more rural utilities and related entities provide these energy benefits to a greater share of their members and customers.

This legislation enjoys support from various rural electric cooperatives and organizations such as the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, League of Conservation Voters, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Association of Counties, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives and Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. Click here to see their statements of support.

U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-VT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Full bill text is available here.

A one-page explanation of the bill is available here.

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