The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB
After failing to reach agreement with Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scrapped plans to bring an oil spill liability and energy bill (S. 3663) to the Senate floor before Congress adjourned for its August recess.
Of note to home builders, the legislation also included provisions for the Home Star program, which is designed to provide rebates to home owners who hire contractors to install new heating and air conditioning units, replace old windows and water heaters and make other energy-efficient upgrades.
It is uncertain if the Senate will reconsider energy legislation when lawmakers return in September. In the interim, NAHB and other business groups continue to work with Senate staff to make helpful changes to the Home Star provisions.
Specifically, NAHB and a coalition of other small business organizations who represent hundreds of thousands of contractors across the nation are urging the Senate to change the program to allow rebates to be provided to home owners, not contractors, who may not have the financial resources to float the rebate amount to the home owner as a short-term loan.
In a recent letter to the Senate leadership, NAHB and other business organizations said that “contractors not able to ‘float the loan’ would opt out of the program altogether, thereby not allowing themselves the opportunity to take advantage of the program.”
By contrast, the House-passed version of the Home Star legislation (H.R. 5019) requires rebates to be sent directly to the home owner.
NAHB is also urging the Senate to expand the certification opportunities under the Home Star Gold Star program. Under the Senate bill, only contactors who are accredited by the Building Performance Institute can offer home owners the more valuable Gold Star rebates.
The Senate letter stated that 29 states currently do not have a single contractor who could offer home owners a pathway to Gold Star rebates.
“In order to remedy this situation, we urge the Senate to expand the opportunities for home owners to obtain Gold Star rebates for energy saving retrofits in the legislation,” the letter said. “Otherwise, the job creation benefits of the Home Star Retrofit Rebate Program may not fully materialize.”
To view legislation, click here and type the bill number in the box at the upper center of the page.
For more information, e-mail Elizabeth Odina at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8570.