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The Associated Press September 16, 2010, 4:02PM ET

Idea by SC utilities leads to energy saving bill

An idea from South Carolina utility leaders to make rural homes more energy efficient through low-cost loans from the federal government has passed the U.S. House.

Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina President Mike Couick said Thursday up to 1.5 million people in the state could take advantage of the program, which the Senate must approve.

Customers take out loans to pay for new heat pumps, insulation and other energy saving measures. They get up to 10 years to pay back the loan through charges on their utility bills.

In most cases, officials say the energy savings should pay for the loan.

U.S. Reps. John Spratt and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina introduced the legislation. They say the bill could create jobs for people to do energy audits and install energy efficient products.

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