WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the transfer of nearly $80 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, and Oregon to expand state weatherization assistance programs. After submitting their comprehensive state weatherization plans that were due on May 12, these states are now receiving 40 percent of the total funding previously authorized under the legislation. Today's announcement represents the next step in the Obama Administration's efforts to promote energy efficiency, lower energy costs, and help support new jobs.
This installment adds to the initial 10 percent of the states' funding allocations that were previously awarded for training and ramp up activities. These four states have now received 50 percent of their Recovery Act funds for the Weatherization Assistance Program.
"The Obama Administration is moving at an unprecedented pace to award these funds to states, so that weatherization agencies can move forward, hire new workers, and immediately begin helping homeowners make their homes more energy efficient," said Secretary Chu. "This investment will save money for hardworking families while creating jobs, reducing pollution, and moving us toward energy independence."
The four states receiving funding today submitted aggressive and innovative plans to expand their weatherization programs:
- Arizona ($22,809,311 awarded today) will use its funding to weatherize an additional 6,409 homes over the next three years. The AZ Weatherization Assistance Program (AZ WAP) - a part of the AZ Department of Commerce's Energy Office - will work with 10 local weatherization agencies to provide services to low-income families, focusing efforts on the elderly and handicapped, along with high energy consuming households. As part of the weatherization training program, new technicians have the opportunity to enroll in Weatherization Boot Camp, a five-day training covering energy basics, pressure diagnostic, health and safety, and hands on diagnostic and repair. In order to monitor the effectiveness of the weatherization program in each home, AZ WAP works closely with local electric and gas utilities to obtain and review utility bills for weatherized homes. Through this innovative partnership, the program is able to access a five-year utility history to compare the pre- and post-weatherization energy consumption.
After demonstration of successful implementation of their plan, the state will receive more than $28 million in additional funding, for a total of more than $57 million.
- Kansas ($22,576,708 awarded today) will expand their existing weatherization efforts to reach 5,820 new homes as a result of Recovery Act funding. Prior to receiving this latest round of weatherization funding, the Kansas weatherization network - a collection of public and private nonprofit agencies, including community action agencies, a regional planning commission, a housing service agency, an economic development district, and a county government - analyzed their staffing and equipment needs and have ramped up their operations. The Kansas Weatherization Assistance Program (K-WAP) has also increased the number of trainings they are running to meet the increased demand for weatherization workers. In addition, Kansas is focusing on expanding their Multi-family weatherization program to reach more low-income homes, particularly among the elderly, disabled and families with children.
After demonstration of successful implementation of their plan, the state will receive $28 million in additional funding, for a total of more than $56 million.
- Mississippi ($19,768,477 awarded today) will use their Recovery Act funding to reach 5,467 more families. The state's weatherization program is focusing on reaching single-family homes and prioritizing weatherization services for the elderly and disabled, families with children, and homes that use an above-average amount of energy. Mississippi's program is run through the Community Services Division at the Mississippi Department of Human Services, which contracts with 10 local weatherization agencies across the state. Mississippi is also emphasizing the importance for the local agencies to leverage DOE funds through in-kind and financial donations to further support the weatherization program in the state.
After demonstration of successful implementation of their plan, the state will receive more than $24 million in remaining funds, for a total of more than $49 million.
- Oregon ($15,404,894 awarded today) will weatherize 4,635 additional homes with Recovery funding, reducing energy costs for thousands of families across the state. The state will use an experienced network of local weatherization agencies - 22 subgrantees comprised of 17 community action agencies; housing authorities; area agencies on aging; senior centers; a development corporation; and 5 Native American tribes - to direct funds toward low-income households, with an emphasis on reaching the elderly, disabled residents, or families with children under 6 years of age. As part of the training and management ramp up activities under the Recovery Act, a number of agencies and organizations collaborated to develop a list of high need projects throughout the state from the existing multi-family portfolio, resulting in a prioritized listing of the most at-risk projects requiring energy upgrades. Also, to ensure adequate services are provided to Native Americans and Farm worker populations in the state, individual allocations have been established for each: 3% for the Native American community, 10% for farm workers.
After demonstration of successful implementation of their plan, the state will receive an additional $19 million, for a total of more than $38 million.
The Recovery Act includes a strong commitment to oversight and accountability, while prioritizing the rapid deployment of funding to help create new jobs. On March 12, DOE announced the availability of weatherization funds and began accepting applications - at that time 10 percent of total funding was available to states and territories to support planning and ramp-up activities. With today's announcement, these four states will receive an additional 40 percent of their total funding. The balance of the funding will be released when states meet reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones as required by the Recovery Act.
DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program will be available to families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level - or about $44,000 a year for a family of four. Weatherization projects allow low-income families to save money by making their homes more energy efficient, reducing heating bills by an average of 32 percent and overall energy bills by hundreds of dollars per year.