March 12, 2009

$44 Million in Federal Funding On Its Way to Help RI Weatherize Homes, Improve Energy Efficiency

Washington, DC – Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation today announced that Rhode Island will receive $44,033,615 in weatherization and energy efficiency funding, including $23.96 million for the State Energy Program (SEP) and $20.07 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).  This federal funding, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that all four members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation supported, will go directly to the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, which administers the State Energy Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program. 
The State Energy Program provides grants to state energy offices to assist states in implementing their own energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Organizations, cities, and towns may apply to the state for SEP funding to conduct a wide range of activities, such as: developing renewable energy projects for clean electricity generation and alternative fuels; promoting of Energy Star products; installation of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, like adding solar panels or replacing inefficient lighting and heating systems in state and local government buildings; and other innovative efforts to lower energy costs and reduce usage.
The Weatherization Assistance Program funding will support weatherization of homes, including adding more insulation, sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment.   This program allows low-income families to save money and lower their energy usage by making their homes more energy efficient, reducing energy bills by an average of 32% and saving families hundreds of dollars per year.  Families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level – or about $44,000 a year for a family of four, are eligible for an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades.
“By weatherizing homes and making our communities more energy efficient, we will help families and communities reduce their energy bills over the long-term and put people back to work immediately.  This federal funding will help increase demand for a host of industries related to weatherization – from vehicles to building materials to heating systems,” said Reed, who led the Senate effort to increase energy efficiency funding in the bill. “This is a positive step toward creating a new economy that will create good-paying, green jobs, increase innovation, and ensure America’s competitiveness.  Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy is not only a vital part of our economic recovery, but is also an essential part of confronting climate change.” 
“I’m glad that Rhode Island homeowners will have this extra assistance to make their homes more energy-efficient,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee who advocated for increased funding in the economic recovery package for State Energy Programs to perform energy efficiency improvements. “When families and businesses can cut energy bills, it eases the strain on their budgets – because in times like these, every little bit counts – and points us toward a more efficient and independent energy future.”
“This investment in energy efficiency programs will pay dividends for generations.  Weatherizing homes helps families save money year-round, particularly in New England which has many older homes. It is critical that our nation embrace a new energy economy, one that will create jobs and promote energy independence.  These funds will ensure that Rhode Island can move forward with renewable energy projects and households can take advantage of energy efficient products,” said Kennedy.
“As we all experienced this year, New England winters can be harsh and the cost of home energy bills are quickly becoming unaffordable.  This latest round of weatherization funding released as part of the recovery and reinvestment bill will help Rhode Island families insulate their homes from the cold and extreme heat,” said Langevin, a member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.  “I look forward to working with our state community action agencies to raise awareness about the availability of these weatherization and energy efficiency programs in the coming months.”
Since the program began in 1975, WAP has helped weatherize more than 33,000 Rhode Island homes, benefitting over 87,000 Rhode Islanders and saving consumers over 101 million gallons of heating oil.


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