October 31, 2008

Reed and Whitehouse Announce $1.29 Million to Help Rhode Islanders Save on Energy Bills

WASHINGTON, DC — In an effort to help more Rhode Islanders save money on their energy bills this winter, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced that Rhode Island will receive an immediate infusion of $1.29 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This federal funding will help Rhode Islanders take simple steps to conserve energy in their homes by installing insulation, repairing outdated heating systems, or sealing up drafty old doors and windows. This is the first payment for the state, which should receive a total of approximately $2.5 million in federal WAP funding this year.

“This is a cost effective way to help Rhode Islanders save on their heating bills and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Reed, who has helped secure over $5.75 million in federal funding over the last five years for weatherization efforts in Rhode Island. “This is a forward-looking program that helps people insulate their homes and allows them to save money. It also makes good environmental sense. We now save more energy each year from energy efficiency than we get from any single energy source, including oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power, reducing pollution from greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.”

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.

“As Rhode Island families face winter in the midst of record unemployment and economic uncertainty, weatherization is a way to save money, create jobs, and help make homes more energy efficient,” said Whitehouse. “This is valuable assistance that will help this year and for many years, and I hope Congress will provide additional weatherization funding if we pass new economic stimulus legislation.”

According to the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP), the first year energy savings for households weatherized in 2008 will be more than $400.

Although President Bush sought to reduce funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program, Congress was able to add money to the budget for WAP, providing over $250 million to weatherize homes nationwide.

The funding for this $1.29 million payment was included in the Continuing Resolution (CR), legislation that keeps the federal government funded when annual spending bills are not passed. The funding in the CR is a supplement to the program’s regular funding, which will be distributed to states once the annual spending bills are completed.

Since WAP’s inception, more than 5.8 million homes have been weatherized using federal, state, utility and other monies. The program serves all 50 states and weatherizes about 100,000 homes each year. This supplemental funding more than doubles the program’s funding, and will help weatherize at least 100,000 additional homes.

There is approximately a four-year backlog of eligible families waiting for their home to be weatherized. Accordingly, there will be no need to identify new homes and funding will be distributed to the states on a timely basis.


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