Rep. Tom Perriello saw his bill that would provide rural homeowners with loans to pay for energy efficiency upgrades pass the House of Representatives this week. At the same time, the law – if it can get past the “Party of NO” in the Senate, and that’s a big “if” – would also provide thousands of construction jobs in the parts of Virginia hardest hit by the Great Recession.
The Rural Star legislation would set up a loan fund for local electric co-ops, which would then lend the money to its customers to finance home efficiency upgrades. The homeowners would repay the government loans over time through a surcharge on their electric bills. Because of efficiency cost savings to the customers, there would be little or no change in their monthly bill.
Rural electrical cooperatives are the result of actions by the administration of Franklin Roosevelt to bring electricity to the nine out of ten rural homes without it in the 1930’s. They are still an integral part of electrical service in the U.S., including many of the most rural parts of Virginia. The co-ops are owned by the members and are non-profit entities.
If the people of the 5th District, in some fit of misplaced anger, don’t re-elect Tom Perriello to Congress, they will lose the most effective representative the district has ever had. Plus, they will lose a representative who cares enough about them to show up in every part of that huge district, holding town halls, meeting constituents, and…not ducking debates.