The Inflation Reduction Act of 2023 is the landmark legislation that aims to lower the cost of living for millions of Americans by providing rebates for home energy efficiency improvements. The Act also extends this benefit to the U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. This is a great opportunity for the residents of these territories to save money on their energy bills and improve the environment. The Home Energy Rebate Program (HERP)is designed to help low- and moderate-income families by installing energy-saving devices such as solar panels, heat pumps, insulation, and smart thermostats. The program is administered by the Department of Energy (DOE), which has allocated $500 million for the U.S. territories. To qualify for the rebate, residents must live in a U.S. territory and own or rent their primary residence. The rebate amount will depend on the type of energy efficiency measures installed, as well as the household income and predicted energy savings. In the territories, local Energy Offices will be responsible for administering this program.
To take advantage of this program, the territories’ Energy Offices may consider steps to ensure a smooth and successful rollout. For instance, establish eligibility criteria and application procedures for the rebates. The Act provides a minimum set of requirements for qualifying energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, windows, doors, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and solar panels. However, the Energy Offices may be able to tailor criteria to suit their specific needs and priorities. It is important to design a simple and user-friendly application process for the rebates, preferably online, and provide clear guidance and instructions for the applicants. Also, they should coordinate with local contractors and vendors to provide quality service and products. Residents need to be informed about the benefits and opportunities of the program. The Energy Offices should use a comprehensive outreach campaign to raise awareness and interest among the residents of the territories about the home energy rebate program. Finally, they will need to monitor and evaluate the performance and impact of the program. The Energy Offices need to collect and analyze data on the number of applications, approvals, denials, installations, inspections, payments, savings, emissions reductions, and resident satisfaction with the program. They can use this information to identify any issues or challenges that may arise during the implementation of the program and make improvements as needed.
The HERP is a win-win situation for both the residents and the environment of the U.S. territories. As part of the implementation process, territories should consider using a workflow management system to simplify execution. eTRACK+ is a flexible and scalable system that will allow residents, contractors, and Energy Office employees to seamlessly exchange information. Additionally, eTRACK+ has data analysis and report generation tools to evaluate program performance and share information with stakeholders. The HERP is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to impact residents’ lives and the environment. eTRACK+ has the potential to make its implementation even more impactful.
Written by – Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 40 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.