By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

The $819 billion economic stimulus plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday has been criticized for containing too many short-term measures aimed at stimulating the flagging economy – or too few; for being too focused on green infrastructure – or not focused enough.

Those arguments aside, there are many provisions in the House bill that passed Wednesday that will help individuals and their communities save money and energy, simultaneously, and in doing so, take a swipe at global warming.

“The House bill adopted (yesterday) would make increased energy efficiency a hallmark of the nation’s economic recovery with the infusion of federal funds for efficiency initiatives throughout the economy – to consumers, to businesses, to state and local governments, and more,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the advocacy group, Alliance to Save Energy.

According to the Alliance, which has sifted through the massive bill to pull out the energy-saving components, there are several meaningful ways money will flow from D.C. to help green America. Many of these measures also will create spending, for example, by offering consumers incentives to buy hybrid cars and newer furnaces.

But some are longer term ideas that attempt to knit energy efficiency into the fabric of the American economy. There’s money for energy research and innovation and federal dollars for local communities that want to make their schools more energy-wise or reduce the carbon emissions of city vehicles.

It includes:

  • $14 billion for school repair (with stipulations that educational agencies use at least 25 percent of the money for modernization, renovation or repairs. Read: not new schools.)
  • $11 billion to modernize the energy grid (allowing customers to more easily access renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power
  • $9 billion for public transportation, including $1.1 billion for Amtrak construction to enlarge inter-city rail service
  • $2.5 billion in energy retrofitting grants for owners of assisted housing projects
  • $500 million for green jobs, for research and training projects that prepare works for careers in renewable energy and energy-saving programs
  • $400 million to help state and local governments buy alternative-fuel vehicles
  • $300 million to support state rebates to consumers who replace old appliances with Energy Star appliances
  • $200 million for the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Program, which gives grants to state and local governments for projects that encourage plug-in electric (hybrid) vehicles