Federal legislation is in the works that creates utility \u201con bill\u201d financing to expand installations of energy efficiency improvements at businesses and homes to reduce their energy expenses and greenhouse gases, as well as to create jobs. \u201cWhen you have a program that cuts energy bills and makes small businesses more competitive, creates jobs, and slashes greenhouse gas emissions, Congress should support these efforts,\u201d Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), chair of the Senate Environment & Public Works Green Jobs Subcommittee, said Oct. 13. Sanders plans to introduce legislation to expand \u201con bill\u201d financing now used in 17 states to all 50 states. The California Public Utilities Commission mandated that investor-owned utilities offer non-residential customers \u201con bill\u201d financing between 2010-12. The zero interest loan repayment is spread out over five years for businesses and 10 years for government agencies. San Diego Gas & Electric was the first utility to offer businesses this financing option. \u201cThey are still the leader,\u201d said Hank Ryan, Small Business California executive director. Sanders\u2019 legislation would expand the non-residential on bill financing option to homeowners. Under this financing mechanism, utilities pick the contractor and pay the upfront costs of efficiency improvements--which begin at around $10,000 or more. The cost is amortized and included in ratepayer utility bills. Every dollar spent for energy efficiency creates $3.00-$4.00 in savings, said Edward White, National Grid vice president. California investor-owned utilities\u2019 efficiency programs are estimated to save far less, with $1.30 saved for every $1 invested (Current, Oct. 6, 2011). Efficiency installations typically reduce small businesses\u2019 energy costs by 15-30 percent, according to Kyle Kemp, National Small Business Association governmental affairs director. Some Republican members used the subcommittee hearing to bash the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sen. James Inofe (R-OK) asserted that the EPA \u201cis waging war on clean energy.\u201d Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) insisted that energy efficiency is a non-partisan issue. \u201cOn energy efficiency we should all get together whether we demean the EPA or support it. It is dollars and sense,\u201d said Boxer.