September 12, 2013

Gillibrand Introduces Amendment to Allow Storm-Impacted Homeowners, Businesses, and Communities to Use Federal Disaster Relief Aid for Energy-Efficient Infrastructure Upgrades

Senator’s Legislation Would Apply Retroactively to Residents, Localities Hit by Superstorm Sandy and Received Disaster Aid

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today introduced an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 that would allow residents and publically-owned utilities who receive federal disaster aid to directly use the funding to replace damaged equipment or structures with more energy-efficient models. Legislation would expand emergency aid to include energy-efficient upgrades, streamlining the burdensome process that storm-impacted communities, homeowners and businesses face when it comes to securing improved, up-to-date equipment and infrastructure. The Gillibrand amendment would apply retroactively to Superstorm Sandy, allowing New York residents and communities to use unallocated disaster aid for energy efficient equipment and infrastructure upgrades.

“As we learn the lessons of Superstorm Sandy, we must remove roadblocks that many disaster-hit homeowners, businesses, and communities face as they seek to rebuild better and make energy efficient upgrades to critical public infrastructure and equipment damaged from the storm,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By allowing federal emergency disaster aid to be used for energy efficient technology, New Yorkers will save money in the long-term and have the infrastructure in place to weather future natural disasters.”

Currently, residents and businesses must go through a separate, burdensome application process in order to use disaster relief aid for energy efficient upgrades to their damaged equipment and infrastructure. Since there are fewer administrative burdens when replacing damaged property with structures or equipment of similar, or “in-kind” technology, some opt to replace damaged components with antiquated counterparts, instead of upgrading to more energy efficient models. Senator Gillibrand’s amendment would allow federal emergency aid to be directly used towards replacing damaged equipment or structures with more energy-efficient models.

Under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, states are encouraged to develop comprehensive preparedness plans, facilitate intergovernmental coordination during times of crisis, and provide emergency relief funding and federal assistance programs for losses due to a disaster. Residential, public, and privately-owned facilities that provide critical services are eligible to receive emergency funding.