(Washington, DC) – The energy efficiency program President Obama will detail today in Georgia fails to cover disaster resiliency measures, making it less effective than it could be in achieving its public policy goals, according to SmarterSafer.org. The group is lobbying Congress to amend the proposal known as Home Star to cover disaster resiliency measures that reduce risks from tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, mudslides and other natural disasters.
Andrew Fahlund, Vice President for Conservation at American Rivers, said: “The Administration can kill two birds with one stone by including mitigation in the Home Star program: It can both strengthen federal natural disaster policy by implementing a policy that improves efforts to protect homes before disaster strikes and can create jobs at the same time. Expanding Home Star to include disaster resiliency measures is the kind of smart and sound policy that Americans want to see come out of Washington.”
Eli Lehrer, Senior Fellow at the Heartland Institute, said: “If the administration wants to get the most out of this program, it should support a balanced approach that helps individuals with both energy retrofits and mitigation.”
In its current form, Home Star only extends rebates to those who retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient but does nothing to incentivize measures that would protect homes from major weather events or earthquakes. By expanding Home Star to include measures to fortify homes against natural disasters, the program would both be better able to create new jobs AND result in significant tax dollar savings in the event of a major natural disaster.
SmarterSafer.org would like to see the mitigation rebates processed through either a state mitigation program or through a national rebate process and would be funded out of Home Star’s appropriation. Like energy efficiency rebates, homeowners would be eligible for up to $1,000 per mitigation measure, so long as the total rebate does not exceed $3,000. To get the rebates, homeowners would have to get a certified contractor to confirm that the measures were properly installed and used tested materials. Disaster resiliency measures include strengthening roof attachments, creating water barriers and seals, constructing safe rooms, elevating electrical systems, and adding storm shutters.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.