WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that the Department of Energy is providing more than $304 million in Recovery Act funding to expand weatherization assistance programs in Georgia, Illinois and New York. These funds, along with additional funds to be disbursed after the states meet certain Recovery Act milestones, will help these states achieve their goal of weatherizing more than 85,000 homes, lowering energy costs for low-income families that need it, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating green jobs across the country.
Georgia, Illinois and New York will receive 40 percent of their total weatherization funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act today. This installment adds to the initial 10 percent of the states' funding allocations that were awarded previously for training and ramp-up activities. Under the Recovery Act, the states may spend up to 20 percent of the funds to hire and train workers.
"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."
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, which results in average savings of 32 percent for heating bills and savings of hundreds of dollars per year on overall energy bills. States will spend an average of $6,500 to weatherize each home.
The funding allocations for the Weatherization Assistance Program follow a stage-gate process: on March 12 funding allocations by state were announced and the initial 10 percent of total funding was available to states and territories to support planning and ramp-up activities; comprehensive state applications were due on May 12; following a DOE reviews for each state, 40 percent allocations are awarded; and the remaining 50% of funds will be released when states meet reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act.
The Recovery Act includes a strong commitment to oversight and accountability, while emphasizing the necessity of rapidly awarding funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies.
The three states receiving funds today submitted aggressive and innovative plans to expand their weatherization programs:
GEORGIA - $49,902,524 awarded today
Georgia will use its Recovery Act funds to weatherize more than 13,600 homes over the next three years. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, which manages the weatherization program in the state, intends to leverage Recovery Act funds in partnership with the Georgia Power Company to weatherize 500 additional homes. The state is giving priority to weatherizing homes occupied by elderly residents and elderly residents with disabilities, and expects at least half of all weatherized homes will go to these high-need residents.
After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive an additional $62 million, for a total of nearly $125 million.
ILLINOIS - $97,010,647 awarded today
Illinois will use its Recovery Act funding to weatherize nearly 27,000 homes over the next three years, reducing energy consumption and our dependence on fossil fuels, while creating jobs locally. The funding will help expand the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The state will then provide subgrants to 35 existing local agencies with demonstrated effectiveness in implementing energy audits and home weatherization programs. Every housing unit that receives weatherization assistance will also receive a final inspection to ensure that the work was completed properly. In addition, DCEO will conduct random checks on subgrantee assessments and final inspections.
Under the Illinois plan, each of the 35 local subgrantees will receive funding to hire and train new employees or contractors. DCEO is also using Recovery Act funding to add 12 rounds to their existing training and certification program, and is working with the Illinois Community College Board to set up mandatory contractor training and certification. These efforts will ensure the necessary workforce to carry out weatherization assistance throughout Illinois.
After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive over $121 million in additional funding, for a total of more than $242.5 million.
NEW YORK - $157,874,605 awarded today
New York will use its Recovery Act funding to weatherize more than 45,000 homes over the next three years. The state Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) intends to maximize state Recovery Act funding by coordinating its weatherization program with other state agencies to improve benefits for low-income clients. Subgrantees in the state are encouraged to access other federal and state housing funds that can be used along with weatherization funds to provide comprehensive weatherization services, as well as additional repair and rehabilitation work. The state is also encouraging weatherization assistance services to be combined with non-federal sources, such as utilities, the American Red Cross, and others, to provide more complete energy-related services to low-income clients.
After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive an additional $197 million, for a total of more than $394 million.