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Breaker breaker

April 1, 2021

Friend,

The intersection of climate progress and economic prosperity is at the heart of our work at Rewiring America, and we are thrilled that President Biden has put these issues front and center in his American Jobs Plan. Our official statement:

The American Jobs Plan… is an ambitious, timely, and necessary blueprint for jumpstarting the American economy, meeting the climate challenge, and laying the groundwork for a safer and more prosperous future.

No issue more directly captures the economic opportunity associated with bold climate action than widespread electrification. Electrifying our economy – that is, replacing those cars, furnaces, water heaters, and other machines that currently run on fossil fuels with their electric counterparts and powering them with clean energy – is not just the only currently viable strategy for avoiding the worst effects of climate change, but also the surest path to creating millions of new jobs and saving Americans thousands of dollars a year on their energy bills.

See below for the rest of the statement.


Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about our One Billion Machines challenge, and our work to ensure that all our fossil fuel-burning machines will be replaced at the end of their useful lives with clean electric alternatives that are affordable to everyone. Making the switch to clean electricity, starting in our homes, is the only way we are going to address climate change in time.

It’s doable, but it requires that we make clean electric machines the most affordable and easiest options for households to choose. That takes real investment to bring down the up-front costs of those machines. In most cases, it also means upgrading our breaker boxes, otherwise known as fuse boxes or load centers.

You see, when you electrify your home, you are nearly tripling the amount of electricity your house uses. You are also installing appliances that require 240V electricity (think of the plug on your dryer if you have one). Unfortunately, roughly 60 percent of the breaker boxes in America cannot handle those kinds of loads. They need to be updated.

Breaker box drawing

Why is this important? Just run the following thought experiment. You wake up in the morning, hop in the shower and it’s freezing cold. You call the plumber who tells you your gas-powered water heater needs to be replaced. You say, great! I read all about this and know that I need to buy an electric heat pump water heater. The plumber informs you that the only way to do that is to update your breaker box. Get that scheduled and done and then call back when you’re ready for a new water heater. Are you going to wait on those hot showers for you and your family, or just take the new gas water heater in the truck? Exactly. That gas-powered water heater will last another decade, and spew carbon that entire time.

The breaker boxes in our homes are critical energy infrastructure. We need to make sure every single one of them is updated so that, when the time comes to replace a core appliance, those boxes don’t become a major barrier to electrification. There is an affirmative reason as well. The new breaker boxes make rooftop solar, EVs and grid electrification scalable. Indeed, they will help us balance the load on the grid in our electrified future, allowing you to put your excess electricity back into the grid, or letting you know the best time to charge up your appliances to lessen the load or to maximize savings.

Our policy recommendations include rebates of $2,500 per household for breaker box upgrades.

The BUILD GREEN Infrastructure and Jobs Act

Rewiring America is a proud supporter of the BUILD GREEN act that would invest $500 billion over 10 years in state, local, and tribal projects to mobilize the transition to all-electric public transportation. This would reduce carbon emissions and unhealthy air pollution while expanding clean mass transit and creating up to a million jobs. The bill, introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass) along with Reps. Andrew Levin (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), will provide grant funding to green the US transportation infrastructure.

Build Green Act Support

“The climate crisis is an existential threat to our planet,” Senator Warren said via a press release, “but it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, create a million good new jobs, and unleash the best of American innovation.” We couldn’t agree more.

Here’s more on the BUILD GREEN act:

Our statement on the release of President Biden's American Jobs Plan

The intersection of climate progress and economic prosperity is at the heart of our work at Rewiring America and we are thrilled that President Biden has put these issues front and center in his American Jobs Plan. It is an ambitious, timely, and necessary blueprint for jumpstarting the American economy, meeting the climate challenge, and laying the groundwork for a safer and more prosperous future.

No issue more directly captures the economic opportunity associated with bold climate action than widespread electrification. Electrifying our economy -- that is, replacing those cars, furnaces, water heaters, and other machines that currently run on fossil fuels with their electric counterparts and powering them with clean energy -- is not just the only currently viable strategy for avoiding the worst effects of climate change, but also the surest path to creating millions of new jobs and saving Americans thousands of dollars a year on their energy bills. By proposing billions of dollars in investments in our grid, electric vehicle infrastructure, and electrified affordable housing, President Biden has recognized and highlighted the central role of electrification in America's future. Rewiring America applauds the President for his leadership on this issue and looks forward to working with the Administration, Congress, and other stakeholders on making the case that an electrified future is a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous one.

The American Jobs Plan, coming on the heels of the American Rescue Plan, is a critical step toward meeting this moment of crisis and opportunity. We are thrilled to support the President's efforts and to help drive progress on the twin -- and related -- challenges of climate change and economic growth. We should not be limited in our ambition. Over forty-two percent of America's greenhouse gas emissions come from the decisions we make in our households. Yet, the upfront costs of transitioning from fossil fuel heating appliances to heat pumps and electric hot water heaters are prohibitive for too many households, even if making the switch will ultimately save them money in the long run. The majority of American homes also lack the infrastructure needed to support at-home EV charging, solar panels, and other beneficial electric equipment. That is why we have proposed a rebate and grant program that would allow American homes to go-electric for no extra cost and would drive local job creation in the process. You can't upgrade a load center or install a heat pump in Pittsburgh from overseas.

President Biden is leading the way by recognizing that now is the moment to meet the climate challenge and invest in America's future. It is a time for ambition and seizing opportunities. It's time to Build Back Better. Rewiring America is ready to help out.


Meet our Advisors

We are assembling a stellar advisory board from all corners of the renewable energy universe – advocates, business leaders, environmental justice experts, policy wonks, and entrepreneurs. We’ll be introducing them to you over the course of the next few weeks.

Anne Evans

We’re delighted to welcome Anne Evens, the Chief Executive Officer of Elevate Energy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to designing and implementing efficiency programs that lower costs, protect the environment, and ensure the benefits of energy efficiency, demand response and renewables reach those who need them most. Evens has worked in energy efficiency and affordable housing for twenty years in both the nonprofit and governmental sectors in the U.S. and in southern Africa.

Anne sits on the board of the National Housing Trust, the Executive Committee of the Board of the National Center for Healthy Housing and she’s an alumnus of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. In addition, she acted as lead researcher on the Chicago Climate Action Plan and Regional Energy Plan for the Chicago Metro Agency for Planning (CMAP).