Biden Announces Funds for Energy Retrofitting Projects on Earth Day Eve

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports:

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Vice President Biden announced today that 25 communities across the nation will receive a portion of $452 million of stimulus funding to speed up progress on energy efficiency building retrofits.

The “Retrofit Ramp-Up” initiative, administered under the Department of Energy, brings together local governments with private sector businesses and non-profit groups to develop new programs for retrofitting neighborhoods and communities. (the full list of the 25 communities and groups receiving money is included below)

Biden said investing in retrofits is “a triple win.”

“It’s a win for consumers who save money on their energy bill. It’s a win for the environment because we’re using less energy, which cuts down on harmful emissions from greenhouse gases,” he said. “And, finally, it’s a win for the American economy, because it creates green jobs, jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

The vice president joked that the name may not mean much to folks outside of Washington but the benefits need to be made clear.

“Now, I wonder what sometimes our constituents think when we come up with these names,” he said to laughter. “But what we’re really talking about here is simple. It’s about making our homes and our office buildings more efficient and more comfortable and more affordable, replacing windows and doors.”

The Obama Administration touted the savings that American families and businesses could see what a reduction in annual utility bills and the boost in jobs across the country as the projects go into place.

Biden said that making these adjustments could save billions of dollars over time.

“Putting in new air conditioning or heating units that are much more efficient. Sealing up cracks and openings where air can leak into and out of your home,” he said. “That’s retrofitting -- small stuff, but big, big, big savings.”

Biden noted that the announcement comes as the Obama Administration launches a five-day effort around Earth Day to bring attention to the environment and clean energy.

“Today, the day before Earth Day, we kick off a week for an administration that for literally for every day it’s Earth Day for us,” the vice president said.

Biden said that he was shopping at Home Dept back in Delaware over the last two weekend – buying a 30-inch hedge clipper, “because my wife was very dissatisfied with our hedges” – and said he heard from employees there about the administration’s Homestar program, which allows homeowners to get rebates up front for energy efficient home improvement projects.

The vice president said programs like the Retrofit Ramp-up and Homestar will create thousands of jobs in the construction, manufacturing and sales industries.

But he quickly noted that he should not just be focusing on one large U.S. retailer.

“These people, there are going to be people in Home Depot and -- I shouldn’t just be talking about Home Depot -- but, you know, a lot of other places,” he said. “Lowes, that's the other one in my neighborhood. Anyway, they’re jobs, and people need jobs -- jobs in manufacturing, in all those areas where people have suffered very badly because of this recession.”

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