Oh! The weather outside [can be] frightful, which is why Stephen Chu of the U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that 7 states (Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire) will be the recipients of more than $288 million dollars, which will be put toward weatherization projects.
The funds will go toward weatherization projects benefiting more than 91,000 homes. And with the money and subsequent weatherization comes lower energy costs for low-income families that need it, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and creation of green jobs across the country – all part of the Obama administration’s green vision.
The Weatherization Assistance Program will be available to families who make around $44,000 for a family of four (or 200 percent of the federal poverty level). The goal of the weatherization efforts are to make houses of low-income families more energy efficient, which will reduce overall energy bills by hundreds of dollars each year. The results will be an average savings of 32 percent for heating costs alone. States will spend an average of $6,500 per home in order to weatherize.
“These awards demonstrate the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to moving quickly as part of the country’s economic recovery – creating jobs and doing important work for the American people – while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly,” said Secretary Chu. “Today’s investments will save money for hard working families, reduce pollution, strengthen local economies, and help move America toward a clean energy future.”
The recipients of the nearly $300 million will be receiving 40 percent of their allotted Recovery Act funding. This comes on top of the initial 10 percent that was awarded for training and ramp-up activities. In all, the states are allowed to spend 20 percent of their funding on training and hiring workers.
The additional 50 percent of the allotted Recovery Act funding will be made available when states meet reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act.
Here are the plans of action by each of the 7 awarded states:
ARKANSAS – $19. 2 Million Awarded
Arkansas will use its Recovery Act funding to weatherize more than 6,000 homes over the next three years. The Arkansas Office of Community Services (OCS) will administer the program with 15 local organizations to provide weatherization assistance to all 75 counties across the state. These organizations, consisting of community action groups, development councils and other nonprofits, will also conduct energy audits and re-weatherization services for 500 additional housing units. This program will help to reduce energy consumption and energy bills for low-income households, while creating jobs within the state.
The Recovery Act funding will also provide training and technical assistance to the community organizations. Through the state’s training and technical assistance program, these organizations will be kept abreast of new weatherization techniques and methods.
After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive over $24 million in additional funding, for a total of more than $48 million.
IOWA – $32.3 Million Awarded
Iowa will use its Recovery Act funds to weatherize more than 7,200 homes over the next three years. Approximately 18 agencies are involved in carrying out the weatherization work, including the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, Mid-Iowa Community Action, and the Polk County Board of Supervisors. The community action agencies will submit monthly reports to ensure transparency and accountability. In order to increase public awareness of the weatherization program and the savings that go with reduced energy use, Clean Energy Education Savings Guides developed by the Iowa Weatherization Program will be distributed to clients’ homes.
After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive an additional $40 million, for a total of more than $80 million.
KENTUCKY – $28.3 Million Awarded
Kentucky will use its Recovery Act funds to weatherize more than 8,900 homes over the next three years. The state will give priority to households with children under six years of age, and those homes where the housing conditions are substandard and the children are at a risk of being removed from the family. The state will also prioritize homes with elderly and disabled family members and low income households that spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy costs, along with those households that use the highest cost fuels for the amount of energy provided. The program will also analyze the primary fuel type used in the household, with homes heated with electricity receiving a higher priority than those that use coal.
After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive an additional $35 million, for a total of more than $70 million.