Feds incentivize making home greener

Federal tax credits and rebates that will allow Americans to upgrade their homes with green improvements are now available to homeowners in Jamestown.

The money-saving measures, which are part of the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress in August, went into effect Jan. 1. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said it includes “tons of savings for working families.”

“For starters, Rhode Islanders who want to make their home more energy efficient can get a lot of their investment back,” he said. “Families will save money on their utility bills while doing their part to fight climate change.”

The new programs provide tax credits of up to 30 percent for energy efficient upgrades, including insulation, windows and doors. The improvements are generally capped at $1,200 per year, but the new law allows for credits worth up to $3,200 if improvements include heat pumps or biomass stoves.

There are rebates for residential efficiency retrofits and electrification projects, including heat pumps and cooktops, and the law also allows for up to 30 percent in tax credits for rooftop solar, batteries and geothermal heat pumps, including certain installation costs.

“These tools will help some of our most vulnerable customers take steps to reduce energy consumption and costs and provide new opportunities for homeowners and businesses to further decrease their carbon footprint,” said Dave Bonenberger, president of Rhode Island Energy. “We’re excited to help put this legislation to work for Rhode Island and continue advancing our shared clean energy goals for the state.”

Whitehouse also was instrumental in securing up to $62 million in federal dollars to promote the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurship in Rhode Island. The legislation supported and passed by Whitehouse, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Congressman David Cicilline is an effort to connect more business owners to the capital they need.

The money was contingent on the U.S. Treasury’s approval of Rhode Island’s application for the latest round of funding in the State Small Business Credit Initiative. Reed and Whitehouse voted to set up the original program in 2010, and along with Cicilline, helped reauthorize the initiative to deliver a $10 billion pool in credit initiative money as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in March 2021.

“This new injection of federal funds will help small business owners and entrepreneurs access the capital they need to grow their businesses,” Reed, a Jamestown resident, said. “It offers seed funding to turn promising business ideas into action, jobs and opportunities.”

Under the law, each state designs its own programs for small businesses, and Rhode Island has implemented credit and equity initiatives. The state will use its credit initiative money to deliver loans to underserved small businesses and will partner with private entities to identify and boost early-stage and high-growth firms.

During its first wave of funding, Rhode Island leveraged $15 in outside financing for each $1 in credit initiative money invested. It provided 90 loans to small businesses with a median investment of $70,545.