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Oilheat Industry Groups Endorse Proposed Federal Efficiency Rebate Program.

Letter to Senate endorses “Home Star” Act, Suggest Improvements to Protect Small Contractors An alliance of oilheat industry groups has announced general support for the bipartisan Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (S.3434), which would create a two-year, $6 billion nation-wide home efficiency rebate program to encourage home retrofits projects, HVAC system upgrades and other improvements. 

The Home Star bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 6, 2010. A similar proposal has been introduced in the United States Senate, where Senate leaders may attach the bill to a small business stimulus package currently being debated in that chamber. The bill has strong bipartisan support, including support from Republican Senators Snowe (ME), Brown (MA) and Graham (SC).

The legislation would create a two-tier rebate program. “Silver Star” would offer up to $1,500 for each of a series of home efficiency retrofits or system upgrades, including home heating system upgrades, up to a total of $3,000 or 50 percent of total cost. “Gold Star” would offer up to $3,000 for comprehensive retrofits tailored to achieve at least 20 percent of savings, and another $1,000 for every 5 percent of additional efficiency gains to a maximum of $8,000. 

The oilheat industry letter specifically expressed support for the $1,500 Silver Star rebate for heating oil equipment - especially the minimum efficiency standard for oilheat furnaces and boilers, which is 86 AFUE. The bill requires that oilheating equipment also be installed with an electrically commutated blower motor (for furnaces), or temperature reset or thermal purge controls (for boilers). The letter claims this equipment is an improvement over existing federal tax credits which require 90 AFUE for oilheat equipment. The industry has argued that an 86 AFUE system with electronic controls as would be required under Home Star would result in an equivalent efficiency. 

They also expressed support for the $250 Silver Star rebate for the installation of automatic water temperature controllers on existing boilers (but not in conjunction with a new boiler). “Many home heating contractors can easily install these affordable and cost saving measures,’ the letter stated of this rebate. The industry advocated heavily for the oilheat equipment eligibility language for Home Star to be set at 86 AFUE and for the inclusion of a rebate for automatic water temperature controllers. However, while the letter expresses strong support for the Home Star concept, it also recommends further modifications to protect small home energy contractors, including heating oil dealers, from financial burdens associated with being responsible for processing the rebate and “cash fl owing” the value of the rebate until reimbursement. 

The Senate Home Star bill would require contractors to deduct the value of the rebate at “point-of-sale” and then apply for the rebate themselves. The Housepassed version would require that the consumer apply for the federal rebate directly. Nonetheless, the industry expressed a “sincere desire” to work with the Senate to remedy these concerns and advance the legislation into law.

The following groups signed the letter: Delaware Valley Fuel Dealers Association (www. dvfda.org); Empire State Petroleum Association (www. espa.net); Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey (www.fmanj.org); Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association (www.icpa.org); Maine Energy Marketers Association (www.maineenergymarketers. com); Massachusetts Oilheat Council (www.massoilheat. org); Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors’ Association (www.mapda.com); National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers (www. naohsm.org); New England Fuel Institute (www.nefi .com); New York Oil Heating Association (www.nyoha.org); Oil Heat Council of New Hampshire (www.nhoilheat.com); Oil Heat Institute of Long Island (www. ohili.org); Oil Heat Institute of Rhode Island (www.oilheatinri. com); Oilheat Association of Southern New Jersey (www.southjerseyoilheat.com); Oilheat Manufacturers Association (www.oma-oilheat.org); Pacifi c Northwest Oil Heat Council (www.pnwoilheat. com); Pennsylvania Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores Assn. (www.ppmcsa. org); Petroleum Marketers Association of America (www. pmaa.org); Vermont Fuel Dealers Association (www. vermontfuel.com); Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association (www. vpcga.com); and Washington Oil Marketers Association (www.waoil.org) 

For more information, contact NEFI Legislative & Regulatory Action Center, 5505 Connecticut Ave NW #300, Washington, DC 20015-2601 or visit www.nefi actioncenter. com (202) 584-0160.

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