A blower door test is one of the many diagnostic features employed by our program to ensure the highest energy savings possible for those we serve.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

LIHEAP Appropriations Update

The following is a LIHEAP update from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association

The House voted last night to approve the FY 08 Omnibus spending bill that includes funding for 11 appropriations bills including the Labor, HHS, ED bill. The Senate takes up the measure today. The Senate is expected to add funding for the war in Iraq; if that is agreed to by the Senate and then the House, the Administration has indicated it will sign the bill. This could all be over by Friday!

Senator Sanders has been told by the Senate Leadership that he can introduce his amendment to add $800 million in additional funding (above the level contained in the Omnibus bill). The funds would be split 50-50 between regular program funds and contingency. Co-sponsors of the measure include: Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), Casey (PA), Coleman (MN), Cantwell (WA) and Obama (IL),. Discussions on co-sponsorship are also underway with Senator Dole (NC).

The bill as it now stands maintains the formula grant portion at $1.98 billion, the same level as in FY 2007. It would increase the emergency contingency fund from $181.7 million to $590.3 million.

Note: this is the final amount after applying a 1.747% across-the-board spending cut. The amount in the bill prior to the cut is $2.015 billion for the block grant; contingency funding $596.379 million of which $250 million is not subject to the across the board cut because it is included as part of a separate emergency allocation.

Stay tuned to this dial, further updates will be sent as they become available

House Omnibus Update for WAP

The House passed their version of the Omnibus last evening. The Senate is working on their version today. We will keep you informed as we learn more.

The Omnibus compromise bill provides $227.24 million for Weatherization Assistance at DOE. This final figure is $23 million above the current year funding, which was reduced by DOE using its one-time authority under the 2007 Continuing Resolution. (from $242 in 2006). It is also $85 million more than the President Requested. The Administration is planning to phase out the program.

Report language specifically prevents utilizing the T&TA funds for programs other than the statutory Weatherization program.

The Conference Committee report also includes language designed to prevent the Department from using Weatherization funding for other purposes, as its leadership has proposed in numerous public meetings. It says: The funds provided for federal technical assistance and training are intended to be used exclusively to support the effective delivery of weatherization services as set forth in statute and applicable regulations. Any change in program implementation should be proposed to Congress in the Department’s budget submission and not implemented before Congressional approval is obtained.

The Bill also retains the language allowing states to apply for an early program start in the event they so choose (to help keep funding from running out following the large 2007 cuts, especially to warm climate states.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Update Concerning LIHEAP

The House last night voted to sustain the President’s veto of the 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill by 277-141. The vote fell only three votes short of an override. Senator Reed has suggested that they will offer to split the $23 billion difference between the congressional bill and the President. This could place the additional $250 million for LIHEAP as risk of a further cut. The following is the statement from Congressman Obey.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kirstin Brost

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Labor-Health-Education Veto Override and The Specter of Splitting the Difference with the President’s Budget

WASHINGTON – Tonight, Dave Obey (D-WI), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and the Labor-Health-Education Subcommittee, will deliver the following statement before the House during the debate on the vote to override the President’s veto of the Labor-Health-Education appropriations bill.

“People may like to cast a vote without having to take responsibility for knowing the consequences. But there are severe consequences for voting against overriding the President’s veto of the Labor-Health-Education bill.

“If this veto is not overridden, then the best that could happen is we wind up splitting the difference with the President’s wholly inadequate budget.

“If we were to do a 50% cut to the difference between the Labor-Health-Education bill and the President’s budget, what will that mean for the programs that so many members of Congress claim they are for?

“For medical research into diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes at the National Institutes of Health, meeting the President halfway would put us $700 million below the bill we are considering today. That means about 700 fewer grants for research to treat and cure so many deadly diseases.

“For healthcare access – to provide 1.2 million more Americans with access to community health centers this bill is $200 million above the President’s request. Under a split the difference scenario, access for 600,000 people will evaporate.

“Likewise this bill provides $95 million so that 200,000 people who can’t get insurance because they are medically high risk will have health insurance. That insurance goes away for 100,000 people if we split the difference.

“Under the President’s budget, vocational education would have been cut by 50% ($581 million). This bill eliminates that cut, but meeting him halfway would still mean a 25% cut.

“My Republican colleagues worked to push funding for special education beyond what I had proposed in committee - funding the program $800 million above the President’s request. But, defeat of this bill could slash that increase by $400 million.

“This bill provides $400 million above the President to serve nearly 120,000 more low-income kids with Title I grants, but 60,000 of those kids are out of luck if we meet him halfway.

“For the LIHEAP program, this bill also helps around 1.5 million more families to pay their energy bills by providing $630 million more than the President. Anyone who votes against this bill will be making inevitable at least a $315 million cut. That means 750,000 fewer families will have help this winter.

“Please remember, everything I have described is a best case scenario if this bill is defeated and we have to pursue a split the difference alternative. In fact, as long as a sufficient number of Republican members continue to follow the President’s budget priorities like lemmings, the result is likely to be even worse. Those who vote against overriding his veto will bear full responsibility for these cuts in essential investments.

“Explaining the impact of a split the difference scenario helps make clear ahead of time just what the consequences would be of the House’s failure to override the President’s veto.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Record Heating Oil Prices Projected

The state low income energy directors today released their November winter home heating price projections. Prices are projected to increase by 15.2% for all families and reach record levels for home heating oil, propane and electricity this winter. Expenditures for home heating oil, in particular, are projected to be almost 47.3% higher than last year’s level. The average family is projected to pay about $693 more for home heating oil than last year for a total of $2,157.

According to Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, “the Congress and the Administration need to act to quickly to help families pay their winter heating bills this winter, the current funding level for energy assistance is seriously inadequate to meet the need to help poor families pay their home heating costs this winter and not have to choose between heating and paying for their medicine and other essentials.”

Low income households pay a higher share of their income for home energy than other families. In FY 05, the mean energy burden for low income households was 14.6 percent as compared to only 3.2 percent for non-low-income households. For LIHEAP households, the burden was even greater - 20.2 percent. The average LIHEAP grant has been declining for the last several years and would be decimated under the President’s Budget: FY 06 - $454, FY 07 - $314, FY 08 Pres -$256, FY 08 House/Senate Conference Agreement - $348. Under the President's budget states would only be able to serve 4.5 million households for a reduction of 1.1 million from the current level of 5.6 million served.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Oklahoma Recognizes Weatherization Day

Oct. 30, 2007 -- In recognition of the importance of energy conservation, Governor Brad Henry signed a proclamation recognizing today, Oct. 30, as Weatherization Day, an annual event highlighting the awareness of home energy conservation measures. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce Community Development Division is charged with administering the Oklahoma Weatherization Assistance Program. This program, primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, enables low-income families to reduce their average energy bills by more than $350 by improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

"The State of Oklahoma is committed to energy conservation and community assistance, and one of the ways that we make a difference in people's lives is through the Weatherization Assistance Program," says Vaughn Clark, Director of the Community Development Division at Commerce. "The program allows homeowners to reduce their energy costs, and stimulates economic growth in our state by putting more money back in the pockets of homeowners."

Since its creation, the Oklahoma Weatherization Assistance Program has reduced energy costs by an average of 22 percent to more than 1,400 homes each year, helping thousands of Oklahomans. Many of those assisted are the elderly, those with special needs, families with children and households with high energy burdens.

Through the Weatherization Assistance Program, energy efficiency services are performed free of charge for qualifying, low-income households. These services include weatherstripping doors, installing proper insulation, replacing windows, and other measures that help save energy and money. Commerce receives and distributes the weatherization funds, plans, implements, and manages the program and contracts with local Community Action Agencies (CAAs).

CAAs, in turn, qualify individuals, manage the program at the local level and provide weatherization services. Commerce also monitors for state and federal compliance and inspects the projects on-site. In order to assist more families and to provide additional energy conservation improvements, the Energy Conservation Assistance Fund was established by Commerce to expand the Weatherization Program. By contributing to the Energy Conservation Assistance Fund individuals and companies may receive a 50 percent tax credit against their Oklahoma tax liability. Once again this year the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board has made a generous contribution to the Energy Conservation Assistance Fund totaling $500,000.

"Thanks to generous donations, we have been able expand our services to additional families through the Weatherization Assistance Program," says Kathy McLaughlin, Director of Programs at Commerce. "With these donations we are able to help more Oklahomans gain access to energy efficient homes that will reduce their energy costs."

To recognize Weatherization Day in Oklahoma, a Weatherization Demonstration was held in Sperry by Commerce. A team of Weatherization technicians demonstrated the equipment and procedures used to identify energy and safety problems in low-income houses.

For more information about the Weatherization Assistance Program, or the Energy Conservation Assistance Fund, please contact Kathy McLaughlin at (405) 815-5339 or by e-mail at Kathy_Mclaughlin@OKcommerce.gov.

Weatherizing Homes Reduces Utility Bills, Improves Comfort Level

SACRAMENTO – As the winter season and cold weather approach, most families in California will raise their thermostats to combat dropping temperatures. For low-income families, however, turning up the heat is not always an option. These families pay about 14.6 percent of their annual income on energy, compared with only 3.2 percent for other households, and often cut back on other necessities to pay their energy bills.

"As winter approaches, I encourage all Californians to consider weatherizing their homes to lower their energy expenses and increase their energy conservation," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

One of the most efficient and economical means of energy conservation and lowering utility bills is weatherization. Weatherization is the practice of protecting a home or building and its interior from the elements and of modifying or repairing it to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency.

"The fact is weatherization works. It’s low-cost and improves energy efficiency and the comfort level during extreme weather conditions," said Lloyd Throne, Director of the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD). "Weatherization reduces average annual energy costs per household by about $358 during the first year. For every $1 invested in weatherization, $1.53 is returned in energy-related benefits."

CSD partners with a network of more than 100 local community service providers who directly administer federal grant programs, including the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (DOE WAP) for low-income families. In 2006, CSD’s network distributed over $112 million in LIHEAP/DOE WAP funding to more than 250,000 eligible households for emergency, financial and weatherization assistance, which includes attic insulation, weather-stripping and minor housing repairs.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recognizes the plight of low-income families in meeting their home energy needs and has proclaimed October 30, 2007, as "Weatherization Day" in California to raise awareness of the importance of weatherization.

The Governor’s proclamation can be viewed at www.gov.ca.gov/archive/proclamations. For more information about weatherization, log on to http://www.csd.ca.gov/.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Governor Declares October 30 Weatherization Day in Michigan

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has declared October 30 as Weatherization Day in Michigan, a time for government and local community agencies to help low-income residents find ways to stay warm this winter.

"This day draws attention to the impact of rising energy costs and the savings that can be realized by small investments in weatherization programs,” Granholm said.

The Michigan Department of Human Services administers federal funds that reduce the energy burden on low-income families by installing cost-effective measures that increase a home’s energy efficiency. The program also provides energy education to households, educating individuals about lifestyle changes that can greatly reduce the fuel usage in a home. The energy conservation realized through this program reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

A network of 32 local agencies around Michigan – primarily community action agencies – deliver services to more than 5,000 low-income households each year. Services typically cost about $2,826 per household and are available in every county.

“Rising energy costs continue to have a significant impact on low-income families, some of whom may spend up to 40 percent of their income on utility bills,” DHS Director Ismael Ahmed said. “The average cost savings of $300 annually after a home is weatherized can be better spent on groceries, medical care and other critical needs that help a family continue on the path to self-sufficiency.”

Since the inception of Michigan’s Weatherization Assistance Program in 1976 more than 250,000 homes have been made more energy efficient. Local technicians use computerized energy audits and advanced diagnostics to determine the most cost-effective measures for each home and assess related health and safety conditions.

These households save an average of $275 to $324 on their annual heating bills after the weatherization work is completed. Weatherization services include installing insulation, sealing and balancing ducts, cleaning and repairing heating system, minimizing heat loss through windows and doors, carbon monoxide monitoring, and education on basic energy conservation activities.

Weatherization also creates jobs and reduces pollution. Carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by an average of one ton for each weatherized home, reducing pollution levels in Michigan by an average of 4,995 tons annually for the past three years. A total of 52 jobs are created within the nation’s communities for each $1 million invested in weatherization resulting in 2,340 jobs in Michigan in the past three years.

For more information regarding the weatherization program, go to www.michigan.gov/dhs-weatherization

Weatherization Assistance Program Legislative Update

You may remember that the WAP was slated to receive another significant cut in the 2008 President’s Budget. The Administration asked for $144 million in WAP funds – a $98 million (or 41 percent) reduction from 2006. The House rejected this lower funding request and passed their 2008 Energy and Water bill with $242.5 million in WAP funds. The Senate Appropriations Committee also passed their version of the Energy and Water bill establishing a WAP funding level of $245 million for 2008 - although this bill has not been sent to the Senate floor for a vote.

Since no bill has been passed by the Senate, no Joint Conference work can occur to resolve differences in the two versions. And of course no bill can be sent to the President for signature.
Because Congress was unable to pass 10 of the 11 Appropriations bills by the September 30th deadline, a Continuing Resolution was passed through November 15th. This is a stopgap measure put in place to keep government operating until either the spending bills or an Omnibus bill can be passed by Congress and sent to the President for signature. Here's where we are at this time:

o It does not appear that the Energy and Water Appropriations bill will pass the Senate floor and a Joint Conference Committee be established before the November 15th deadline. In fact, it is unlikely that any bills will pass before that time, meaning that another Continuing Resolution will need to be passed by Congress to carry government - probably until after the Christmas recess. This means that WAP advance funding may not be available as was originally planned for in the bill. It also means that any funds made available would not exceed last year's level of $204 million and could be less since no new funding levels have been established.

o It is unlikely at this time that a stand alone Energy and Water bill will be passed by Congress. It is more likely that the Energy and Water bill will be included in a large Omnibus bill or one of two or three "MiniBus" bills, lumping our bill with several other spending bills. The timing on passage of these bills is again after Christmas recess.

Regardless of the mechanism, it is probable that WAP funding will see an increase to either the House or Senate level or a compromise between the two.

So what does all this mean? If Congress passes a stand alone bill and it is signed by the President, WAP gets the funding agreed to in Joint Conference.

If an Omnibus is passed including the Energy and Water Bill, WAP receives the funds agreed to by those who work on the Omnibus (probably a compromise between the House and Senate level). If a Continuing resolution is passed like normal, WAP will likely receive last year's funding since funding usually is equal to the lower of the House level, the Senate level or last year's funding. If a Continuing Resolution is passed like last year, DOE will set the limit on funding those programs like WAP without a line item.

This is how WAP received a $36 million reduction even though Congress wanted the Program funded at higher levels.

On a related matter, there is still pending legislation reauthorizing the WAP at much higher funding levels and including three projects that would be added to the Program's portfolio -

1. The Senate has passed an Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program as part of their H.R. 6 Energy Bill of 2007 passed in July. The House has introduced a version of the Block Grant as part of their version of the 2007 Energy Bill. In both cases, the grant program will allow the Secretary of DOE to make direct grants to cities and communities across America to perform a variety of energy efficiency initiatives including WAP according to the House version.

2. The House version contains a new project in the reauthorization language establishing a Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers Grant. This program provides for the Secretary to set aside up to 2 percent of the annual WAP appropriations to fund a renewable energy application project for low-and moderate income families. The grant activity cannot commence until Congress provides WAP with appropriations in excess of $275 million and the grants will still be managed through the states for fiscal oversight and reporting.

3. The House Energy Bill also includes an "Alternate Delivery System Pilot Projects." The amendment allows the Department’s ability to move WAP funds away from the formula grant and provide them to other organizations outside of our network. Again this activity is limited to a percentage of the award over $275 million.

As always, we will keep you informed as we learn more.

Governor Joe Manchin III Proclaims Weatherization Day in West Virginia


Governor Joe Manchin III announced that Tuesday, October 30, 2007 will be known as Weatherization Day in the Mountain State. The dedication of this day as Weatherization Day celebrates the accomplishments of the Weatherization Assistance Program, an excellent federal, state, and local partnership.

Today as a nation, we are faced with a new challenge to demonstrate resolve to increase our energy security and develop a domestic portfolio of diverse energy resources to meet supply and demand. Weatherization not only assists families and households working toward self-sufficiency, but also contributes more broadly to the improvements and economic progress of communities and adds to the nation's energy security.

Governor Manchin also stated that this program has helped nearly 1100 families in our state to conserve energy and reduce their costs for heating, cooling, and electricity. The money saved by reducing their energy bills can now be used by these families to pay for medicine, food, clothing and other essentials in their daily lives.

To view an image of the proclamation, visit:


Governor Rendell Proclaims Oct. 30 as 'Weatherization Day'

HARRISBURG – Citing the importance of being more energy efficient, Governor Edward G. Rendell has declared Oct. 30 as “Weatherization Day” in Pennsylvania.

“With winter on our doorstep and energy costs still rising, it’s important to remember that our state’s weatherization program can help by showing people how to properly insulate their homes, repair or replace their inefficient or unsafe heating systems, and other techniques to help them lower their utility costs,” the Governor said. “Pennsylvanians can also get help paying their heating bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

“Weatherization and LIHEAP have helped thousands of our most vulnerable citizens and they will continue to do so, but we can do more,” the Governor said. “My Energy Independence Strategy keeps more money in Pennsylvanians’ pockets, while reducing our reliance on foreign, costly, and environmentally harmful energy sources.’

The initiative calls for the creation of an $850 million Energy Independence Fund, which would support clean energy by providing rebates to install more energy efficient appliances; give financial assistance to alternative energy companies in Pennsylvania; and support the development of specific energy economic development projects.

“The Energy Independence Strategy will create 13,000 new jobs, attract $3.5 billion in new investment to the commonwealth and cut down on pollution,” Governor Rendell said. “It goes a long way in making Pennsylvania more economically and environmentally sound for generations to come.

“Rising fuel and heating oil costs as well as national concerns over security and the environment mean energy conservation is an issue that can no longer be ignored. We should be thinking of preserving energy year round, not just on Weatherization Day,” the Governor said. “I encourage all Pennsylvanians to take advantage of the resources the commonwealth has available to help pay their utility bills this winter and to learn how to make the state more energy efficient.”

To learn more about LIHEAP and weatherization programs, log onto http://www.staywarmpa.com/. More information on the Energy Independence Strategy is available by visiting http://www.newpa.com/ or by calling 1-866-466-3972.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

LIHEAP Appropriations Update

October 24, 2007

Progress is being made on the release of first quarter LIHEAP funds. HHS told House Appropriations staff that they are hoping to get the first quarter LIHEAP apportionment and funds out to the states by the end of the week. NEADA will continue to monitor the situation until it gets resolved. On another note, the Senate passed the FY 2008 Labor, HHS Appropriations bill last night. The vote was 75-19 and would have been 80-20 had Kennedy, Dodd, Obama, Biden and McCain been present to vote on the bill. While the President has threatened to veto bill, there is now a veto-proof margin in the Senate and the House is short by about 6 votes. The Senate bill maintains LIHEAP the FY 07 funding level of $2.16 billion ($1.98 billion in basic grant and $181.7 million in contingency); the House includes a $500 million increase for a total of $2.66 billion ($1.98 billion in basic grant and $681.7 million in contingency). The next step will be conference where we will have to fight to keep the additional $500 million in contingency funding included in the House passed level for LIHEAP.

For more information contact:
Mark Wolfe, National Energy Assistance Directors' Association

Friday, October 19, 2007

Governor Sebelius Proclaims October 3rd, 2007 ENERGY STAR® Change a Light Day

October 3, 2007

Topeka, KS — In an effort to help the United States save energy, money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Governor Kathleen Sebelius is encouraging Kansans to celebrate Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007 as ENERGY STAR Change a Light Day, with a pledge to change at least one light at home to an energy-efficient model.

“If all the households in Kansas changed just one incandescent light bulb to an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, Kansas could save up to 85 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year,” said Sebelius. “This is enough energy to light every household in Topeka for nearly 220 days.”

Energy efficient light bulbs also help families save money on monthly utility bills and protect the climate. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the amount of energy saved would reduce household electrical bills by a combined total of $4.5 million a year, while preventing over 85 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year. This is equivalent to removing the annual emissions of more than 7 thousand cars from Kansas' roadways.

“Lighting accounts for nearly 20 percent of the average home's electric bill. ENERGY STAR qualified light bulbs use at least 75% less energy than standard bulbs and last up to ten times longer,” said Al Dorsey of Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, the state’s leading quasi-public entity promoting affordable housing opportunities for all Kansans.

“Switching to energy-efficient lighting is an easy step we can each take to protect energy resources and our environment, all the while saving money on energy bills today,” added Dorsey.

Homeowners are encouraged to switch to light fixtures or bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR label, which designates products that meet strict energy efficiency criteria, set by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) joins the DOE, EPA, Department of Housing and Urban Development, others within the federal government, and leaders of all levels from across the country to celebrate ENERGY STAR Change a Light Day and bring attention to the critical importance of using energy wisely at work and at home.

KHRC administers the Weatherization Assistance Program, funded through the Department of Energy and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, which provides housing improvements that increase energy efficiency in income-eligible, single or multi-family dwellings, including manufactured homes. The agency also administers the Kansas Energy Efficiency Program offering interest-free loans to qualified Kansas homeowners to make improvements to their homes to increase energy efficiency.

For more information or to take the ENERGY STAR® Change a Light Pledge, visit www.energystar.gov/changealight. Businesses and organizations can also show their commitment to energy efficiency and help to spread the word by posting a link to the Pledge on their own websites.

For more information, contact Catherine Couch at 785-296-0081

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weatherization Assistance Program Poised as Issue of Importance in Bipartisan Agendas

Over the past few years, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has gained increased recognition for its many environmental and economic benefits as issues of energy and climate move to the forefront. This attention has come from both sides of the aisle with true and enthuastic support from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Recently, Ohio State Representative Jimmy Stewart (R-Albany)described his support of the WAP in the Athens News stating, "You can't get more conservative than energy efficiency".

Positive mention of weatherization surfaces once more in the Pennsylvania’s GOP's energy platform as an area of conservation they support.

This is similiar to Democratic support of the program evidenced in a previous blog posted in April which discussed how the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was poised to become an issue in the 2008 Presidential Campaign thanks to Senator Edwards' inclusion of the WAP in his Environmental Policy Platform.

Earlier this month, fellow Democratic candidate Barack Obama published his own Environmental Platform which listed both Weatherization and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as worthwhile investments for a "Clean Energy Future". The text from this section of his plan can be found below and a full text version is posted to Gristmill.

Invest Revenue for a Clean Energy Future:
Some of the revenue generated by auctioning allowances will be used to support the development and deployment of clean energy, invest in energy efficiency improvements and address transition costs, including helping American workers affected by this economic transition and helping lower-income Americans afford their energy bills by expanding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, expanding weatherization grants for low-income individuals to make their homes more energy efficient, and establishing a dedicated fund to assist low-income Americans afford higher electricity and energy bills

We thank the above parties and policymakers for their support of the WAP and for recognizing how this program works to ensure energy is affordable for families most in need while meeting long-term energy conservation goals.

We are truly grateful for this bipartisan support and appreciate the renewed interest and recognition of the Weatherization Assistance Program as "low hanging fruit" on our path to Energy Independence.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

State Low Income Energy Officials Project Record High Prices for Heating Oil, Propane & Electricity this Winter Continued High Prices for Natural Gas

Contact: Mark Wolfe/ Phone: 202-237-5199, Cell: 202-320-9046
Date: September 25

The state low income energy directors today released their winter home heating price projections. Prices are projected to increase by 10.5% for all families and reach record levels for home heating oil, propane and electricity this winter. Prices for home heating oil, in particular, are projected to be almost 28% higher than last year’s level. The average family is projected to pay about $402 more for home heating oil than last year for a total of $1,834.

According to Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, “these record prices will place a significant burden on low and moderate income families this winter. We are facing prices that are at record levels and are calling on the Administration to immediately exercise his emergency authority under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act to help poor families pay for their first tank of fuel as well as cover outstanding arrearages from high cooling costs this summer.”

Low income households pay a higher share of their income for home energy than other families. In FY 2005, the mean energy burden for low income households was 14.6 percent as compared to only 3.2 percent for non-low-income households. For LIHEAP households, the burden was even greater - 20.2 percent. These families have to choose between paying their bill and other vital necessities. The release of the remaining contingency funds will help these families avoid having to make these tough choices as the winter heating season approaches.


Monday, September 24, 2007

WAP Subgrantee Participates in Energy Star's "Change a Light" Pledge Drive

Florida's Brevard County Housing & Human Services is pleased to announce its participation in Energy Star's "Change a Light" Pledge Drive to promote Weatherization Day 2007.

The organization's goal is to receive 1,000 pledges in the form of compact florescent light bulbs. As of this posting, the office has received 11 pledges amounting to 199 bulbs. This equates to an energy savings of 56,118 kWh and a cost savings of $5,219!

Brevard County Housing & Human Services is also conducting an Energy Fair which will be open to the public on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 from 9:00am to 12:00pm at the Brevard County Government Complex in Viera, Building B.

Please click here for more information and to visit the Energy Star Website.

Weatherization Program Highlighted in Alabama Currents

Attached is an article from the September/October edition of Alabama Currents showcasing the energy savings and health and safety benefits of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA)'s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This is another excellent example of the WAP's many accomplishments across the nation.

Click the image below to enlarge the article.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Energy Conservation and Weatherization Showcased in Providence Journal

Below is a link from the Providence Journal to one of a series of excellent energy efficiency related articles being run throughout Rhode Island.

The article offers a thorough description of the Weatherization Assistance Program and the many benefits it provides to the state, and nation as a whole.

Click here to access the full article.

Energy Resources Guide Available to Virginia Residents

Below you will find a link to the Energy Resource Guide for Virginia.

This online database provides Virginia's households, farms, small business/industry employees, and middle school teachers and students with an electronic tool that allows individuals to review an array of energy information quickly and easily.

To access the guide click here

The publication that accompanies the document is located at this address.

Friday, July 27, 2007

(Success Story) Riverside, California Agency Weatherizes Homes for Low-Income Residents

Maurine Epstein had no problem with the three men who poked around her mobile home Tuesday morning, testing doors, checking the crawl space and inspecting the water heater.

"This is fantastic," she said as she sat at her dining room table, stroking Smudge, her 14-pound cat.

...It was all done at no cost to Epstein, a 65-year-old widow living on a fixed income.

Click here for the full story

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OMB Opposes Increase for LIHEAP

The Office of Management and Budget has expressed it's opposition to the funding levels proposed for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the 2008 budget.

The House has proposed $2.66 billion for LIHEAP in 2008 and the Senate has proposed level funding at $2.1 billion. Both exceed the President's request of $1.8 billion in the 2008 Administration Budget. This issue is particularly significant since WAP receives nearly 10% of the national LIHEAP allocation each year through transfers made by states to support WAP activities.

The specific language in Statement of Administrative Policy can be found below.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The Administration opposes the excessive increase above the President's request for LIHEAP. The bill provides $880 million above the request and exceeds the FY 2007 enacted level by over $500 million. The contingency fund level of $682 million is also well above historic levels for discretionary appropriations.

We will keep you informed as this issue develops.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Senate Subcommittee Markups for FY08

Yesterday, the Weatherization Assistance Program received $240.5 million in the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee’s funding bill for FY08. This is $36 million more than the Department of Energy provided through the Continuing Resolution for FY07. We are grateful to Senators Dorgan and Domenici for their continued support.

This bill will now face full committee markups. We will keep you posted as further developments arise.

Friday, June 22, 2007

National Governors Association Demonstrates Support for Weatherization & State Energy Programs

On June 15, the National Governors Association addressed a letter to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee leadership expressing their support of both the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and State Energy Programs (SEP). The letter urges Congress to fund SEP at a level no less than $74 million and WAP at a level no less than $275 million for FY08.

We are grateful to the Governors for their recognition and interest in our programs. This is an outstanding example of how partnerships are being forged in DC to support these vital state energy initiatives.

The full text of this document can be found below.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Massachusetts Oilheat Council (MOC) Provides WAP Scholarships to the State

For the second consecutive year, the Massachusetts Oilheat Council (MOC), through the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD), has provided Massachusetts Weatherization Assistance Program Subgrantees with five scholarships to the New England Fuel Institute's (NEFI) Oilheat Technician Course.

The course is 4 weeks in length and is a combination of classroom and laboratory instruction.

This is a great example of a public/private partnership to strengthen the technical skills of Massachusetts WAP Energy Auditors.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

WAP Policy Site Gets a New Look

As you may have noticed, our website is changing! Over the next few months, the content will be expanded so that visitors can easily access NASCSP's official position on a wide range of issues and legislation affecting the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

We are also making every effort to provide visualizations of the WAP "in action" and provide examples of the work being done in your state. We encourage you to check back often since exciting developments occurring every day, across the country.

If you have any questions or desire more information on any of the photos, video clips, news stories, or articles posted here, we encourage you to post a response directly to this web log so that we may share our answer with the rest of the WAP community.

Thanks, and enjoy!

Policy Position: General Concerns and FY08 Funding

The Continuing Resolution in place for FY07 provided the Department of Energy with an unusual amount of discretion in determining the funding levels for programs like the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) that are not identified as a single line item in the federal budget. DOE opted to reduce the WAP funding from the FY06 level of $242.5 million to $204.5 million, or a $38 million cut from the previous year.

This funding reduction equates to at least 17,000 fewer households being served in FY07. For every million that is cut from our program 450-500 low-income families go without crucial energy efficiency measures on their homes. Such cuts are particularly devastating in light of the ever-increasing demand for WAP services by millions of households across the nation. Insufficient program funding causes these massive waiting lists and these lists will continue to grow if funding remains stagnant or is lowered.

Beyond the direct benefits provided to families who receive WAP services -like an average of $360 in first year energy savings, continued savings potential for many years in the future, and healthier and safer living conditions - there are countless positive environmental benefits. We reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil by the equivalent of 18 million barrels of oil per year. In fact, an average of 30.5 million MBtu of energy is saved as a result of WAP services - equaling nearly a 25 percent reduction in primary heating fuel use by those homes being weatherized.

We are grateful to Senator Sanders (R-VT) for recognizing the many benefits of our program and including an amendment to the 2007 Iraq War Supplemental. This provision would have restored an additional $25 million in WAP funds for FY07. Unfortunately, this language was dropped in the Joint Conference and funding remains at the $204.5 million level for 2007.

As the FY08 budget and appropriations process begins, the Administration provided the first challenge to WAP by again reducing their 2008 request another $20 million -from $164 million in 2007 to $144 million in 2008. This is far below what Congress supported in 2007 and what the program requires to support its infrastructure and to maintain its core capacity to serve in every political subdivision of the country.

Fortunately, Congress is already demonstrating its support for the WAP. In May, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee reported its FY08 markups including $245.5 million for the WAP, a 20% increase above the DOE 2007 funding level. This bill made it to full committee without amendments and includes language
that will allow 2008 funds to be drawn down early to compensate for the FY07 loss.

We thank Chairman Visclosky (D-IN) and Ranking Member Hobson (R-OH) for their support of the WAP through these critical funds. We have held several meetings with Senate staff and have related our desire to receive a comparable (or higher) funding level offered by the House. We hope that the value of this excellent program will be recognized, and that the WAP will receive the highest funding possible so that the network can continue to serve as the nation's leader in home energy conservation.

Policy Position: Section 275 of S 1419- Energy and Environmental Block Grant

Issue: Section 275 of S 1419- Energy and Environmental Block Grant

S.1419 Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 (Placed on Calendar in Senate)


While NASCSP does not oppose the block grant described below, we are concerned that the language regarding what programs this grant would encompass is vague and may be redundant. There are already several state administered programs that address conservation issues, like the Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program. Their inclusion in this block grant could be extremely confusing and potentially detrimental to the WAP network that exists today.

Our greater concern is that funding within the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee is very limited and usually insufficient to meet the needs of the projects already in place. Adding a multi-billion dollar block could require the Subcommittee to find funding for this new initiative among already existing programs. NASCSP cannot support the shifting of funds from the WAP or the State Energy Program to pay for this new initiative. NASCSP would like to see a separate funding source identified for this block grant and coordination/cooperation between state and local governments and within units of local government before we can begin to provide public support for this new block grant.

Grant Language

(a) Definitions- In this section

(1) ELIGIBLE ENTITY- The term `eligible entity' means--

(A) a State;
(B) an eligible unit of local government within a State; and
(C) an Indian tribe.

(2) ELIGIBLE UNIT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT- The term `eligible unit of local government' means--

(A) a city with a population--

(i) of at least 35,000; or
(ii) that causes the city to be 1 of the top 10 most populous cities of the State in which the city is located; and

(B) a county with a population--

(i) of at least 200,000; or
(ii) that causes the county to be 1 of the top 10 most populous counties of the State in which the county is located.

(3) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of Energy.

(4) STATE- The term `State' means--

(A) a State;
(B) the District of Columbia;
(C) the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and
(D) any other territory or possession of the United States.

(b) Purpose- The purpose of this section is to assist State and local governments in implementing strategies-

(1) to reduce fossil fuel emissions created as a result of activities within the boundaries of the States or units of local government;

(2) to reduce the total energy use of the States and units of local government; and

(3) to improve energy efficiency in the transportation sector, building sector, and any other appropriate sectors.

(c) Program-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall provide to eligible entities block grants to carry out eligible activities (as specified under paragraph (2)) relating to the implementation of environmentally beneficial energy strategies.

(2) ELIGIBLE ACTIVITIES- The Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, shall establish a list of activities that are eligible for assistance under the grant program.


(A) IN GENERAL- Of the amounts made available to provide grants under this subsection, the Secretary shall allocate--

(i) 70 percent to eligible units of local government; and
(ii) 30 percent to States.


(i) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall establish a formula for the distribution of amounts under subparagraph (A)(i) to eligible units of local government, taking into account any factors that the Secretary determines to be appropriate, including the residential and daytime population of the eligible units of local government.
(ii) CRITERIA- Amounts shall be distributed to eligible units of local government under clause (i) only if the eligible units of local government meet the criteria for distribution established by the Secretary for units of local government.


(i) IN GENERAL- Of the amounts provided to States under subparagraph (A)(ii), the Secretary shall distribute--

(I) at least 1.25 percent to each State; and
(II) the remainder among the States, based on a formula, to be determined by the Secretary, that takes into account the population of the States and any other criteria that the Secretary determines to be appropriate.

(ii) CRITERIA- Amounts shall be distributed to States under clause (i) only if the States meet the criteria for distribution established by the Secretary for States.
(iii) LIMITATION ON USE OF STATE FUNDS- At least 40 percent of the amounts distributed to States under this subparagraph shall be used by the States for the conduct of eligible activities in nonentitlement areas in the States, in accordance with any criteria established by the Secretary.

(4) REPORT- Not later than 2 years after the date on which an eligible entity first receives a grant under this section, and every 2 years thereafter, the eligible entity shall submit to the Secretary a report that describes any eligible activities carried out using assistance provided under this subsection.

(5) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this subsection for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2012.

(d) Environmentally Beneficial Energy Strategies Supplemental Grant Program-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall provide to each eligible entity that meets the applicable criteria under subparagraph (B)(ii) or (C)(ii) of subsection (c)(3) a supplemental grant to pay the Federal share of the total costs of carrying out an activity relating to the implementation of an environmentally beneficial energy strategy.

(2) REQUIREMENTS- To be eligible for a grant under paragraph (1), an eligible entity shall--

(A) demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the eligible entity meets the applicable criteria under subparagraph (B)(ii) or (C)(ii) of subsection (c)(3); and
(B) submit to the Secretary for approval a plan that describes the activities to be funded by the grant.


(A) FEDERAL SHARE- The Federal share of the cost of carrying out any activities under this subsection shall be 75 percent.

(i) FORM- Not more than 50 percent of the non-Federal share may be in the form of in-kind contributions.
(ii) LIMITATION- Amounts provided to an eligible entity under subsection (c) shall not be used toward the non-Federal share.

(4) MAINTENANCE OF EFFORT- An eligible entity shall provide assurances to the Secretary that funds provided to the eligible entity under this subsection will be used only to supplement, not to supplant, the amount of Federal, State, and local funds otherwise expended by the eligible entity for eligible activities under this subsection.

(5) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this subsection for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2012.

(e) Grants to Other States and Communities-

(1) IN GENERAL- Of the total amount of funds that are made available each fiscal year to carry out this section, the Secretary shall use 2 percent of the amount to make competitive grants under this section to States and units of local government that are not eligible entities or to consortia of such units of local government.

(2) APPLICATIONS- To be eligible for a grant under this subsection, a State, unit of local government, or consortia described in paragraph (1) shall apply to the Secretary for a grant to carry out an activity that would otherwise be eligible for a grant under subsection (c) or (d).

(3) PRIORITY- In awarding grants under this subsection, the Secretary shall give priority to--

(A) States with populations of less than 2,000,000; and
(B) projects that would result in significant energy efficiency improvements, reductions in fossil fuel use, or capital improvements.'.

Friday, June 8, 2007

FY08 Update for WAP and LIHEAP

The full House Appropriations Committee completed it's mark up of the 2008 Energy and Water bill earlier this week.

Weatherization funding for FY08 has been set at $245.6 million - $101 million more than the Administration's recommendation. The bill should be sent to the House floor for a vote later this month.

A breakdown of the figures for FY08 E&W funding can be found here.

Mark up for the Senate version of the Energy and Water bill should occur sometime between mid to late June.

Meanwhile, the House Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Appropriations provided $2.662 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)for FY08, an increase of $500 million over the comparable amount provided for FY07. The bill provides for FY08: $1.98 billion in block grant funding, the same level as provided in FY07 and $682 million in contingency funds, an increase of about $500 million over the FY07 contingency fund level of $181.7.

The subcommittee release regading funding for LIHEAP and other programs can be found here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

House Markups Cont'd

We have just learned that the State Energy Program (SEP) has recieved $49.5 million in the House Energy and Water Subcommittee markups. We will share more information as it comes to light.

Clean Energy Bill Succeeds in Oregon

Related news...

A controversial renewable energy bill blew away the opposition Wednesday with a 41 to 18 House vote that saw many Republicans join the majority Democrats in landing Gov. Ted Kulongoski a big environmental win...

Click here for the full article.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

FY08 House Markups

Yesterday, the House Energy and Water Subcommittee reported its FY08 markups which contain $245.5 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), a 20% increase above the Administration-reduced 2007 program.

We are very grateful to Chairman Visclosky (D-IN) and Ranking Member Hobson (R-OH) for their recognition of the WAP through these critical funds for FY08.

We will now turn our attention to the Senate and keep you apprised as further developments come to light.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Michigan's State Legislature Supports the WAP

In response to the negative impact of the Department of Energy's cut to the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for FY07, various policymakers and governing bodies have spoken out across the country to assure the highest possible funding for FY08.

The following petition was laid before the Senate yesterday by Michigan's Congressional Delegation. It reflects the commitment of states to this program, and the many benefits of the WAP both on the state, local, and national levels.


Whereas, the Federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), created in 1976 during the nation’s oil crisis and administered by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), provides funding to states to operate programs that pay for weatherization improvements for low-income homes. Weatherization refers to a wide variety of measures and technologies, such as weather stripping, caulking, insulation, and energy-efficient appliances that reduce a building’s energy consumption. The WAP is the country’s longest running and perhaps most successful energy-efficiency program. During the last 30 years, the WAP has provided weatherization services to more than 5.5 million low-income families; and

Whereas, the WAP is a proven and effective program that helps not only low-income households, but the nation as a whole. The WAP empowers low-income families by enabling them to reduce energy costs and take responsibility for their energy bills. Weatherization reduces heating bills by an average of 31 percent. Low-income families receiving WAP retrofits commonly save about $200 to $300 each year in energy costs. In addition to the direct benefits that low-income families receive, a recent study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) documents a multitude of indirect benefits to local economies, the nation’s energy security, and the environment. These benefits include job creation, increased property values, reduced national energy consumption, and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by an average of one ton per weatherized house. The ORNL study concludes that for each $1 of investment in the WAP program, the nation receives $3.71 worth of benefits. Surely, no other program receives such bang for its buck; and

Whereas, the effectiveness of the WAP program is threatened by recent DOE funding decisions. The DOE recently cut the Fiscal Year 2007 budget for the WAP by about 16 percent or about $38 million less than it was a year ago. Local communities and state weatherization directors throughout the nation were dismayed by this decision; and

Whereas, under the Fiscal Year 2007 budget, Michigan is receiving almost $2 million less then it did a year ago, and it could not have come at a worse time. The state is suffering through disturbingly high unemployment rates and a weakened economy and is in the midst of its most devastating and prolonged economic downturn since the Great Depression. Losing about $1.9 million in WAP funds and the associated job stimulus that WAP generally provides is a hard pill for the state to swallow; and

Whereas, as the Fiscal Year 2008 federal budget is hammered out, the WAP program should be recognized and celebrated for its immense effectiveness rather than having its budget slashed. Clearly, it is fiscally wise to invest in the energy-saving WAP program; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate, That we urge the President of the United States, the United States Congress, and the United States Department of Energy to restore funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program in Fiscal Year 2008 and to consider increasing future funding for this important federal program; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Office of the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the members of the Michigan congressional delegation, and the Secretary of the United States Department of Energy.

Seed Newsvine

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Massachusetts Subgrantee Recognized for Outstanding Weatherization Program

Wednesday, May 9-- Today, in the Mayor's Office at City Hall, Worcester Mayor Konnie Lukes announced the first annual Mayor's Clean & Green Awards in recognition of those who are making the necessary transition to clean, green energy, buildings and practices.

The Institutional Award was given to Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) Subgrantee, Worcester Community Action Council (WCAC), Inc. staff for their energy efficiency program. The program has provided weatherization assistance, heating system repair, improved insulation, appliance replacement, and other measures for low income homes in the area.

Through this recognition, the Mayor honors and promotes the outstanding efforts in Worcester that reflect the city's goals, outlined in the Climate Action Plan, of energy conservation and use of renewable energy.The City of Worcester's Climate Action Plan establishes goals to reduce greenhouse gases by 11% and increase renewable energy usage 20%, by 2010. These Awards demonstrate how everyone can undertake similar reductions in greehouse gas emissions.

Each Clean & Green Award recipient will be commemorated with the planting of a tree in their favorite park and the placement of a plaque there. The trees are being donated by Echobrook Nursery.

Seed Newsvine

Virtual Site Demos

Embedded in this blog are a series of video clips related to weatherization. These are streamed from the "You Tube" website which is a forum designed to self-publish a wide range of video footage.

Although the above clips are not offical WAP footage, they have been temporarily included to offer the public a clearer understanding of what weatherization is and what it looks like.
We strongly encourage you to submit clips of actual measures installed on low income homes through the WAP.

Through this vehicle we hope to reach an even greater number of stakeholders and allow them to witness the benefits of the programs virtually through this site.

We make an open call for footage of:

1. Interviews with WAP Directors
2. Interviews with Clients
3. Success Stories
4. Homes Being Weatherized

If you would like to contribute to this project, please email aspector@nascsp.org as soon as possible.

Monday, April 30, 2007

LIHEAP Programs Run Out of Funds as Winter Heating Moratoriums Expire

The following 23 states and the District of Columbia are no longer taking applications for energy assistance because they have run out funds as a result of the cutback in federal program funding: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides heating and cooling assistance to more than 5.7 million households annually. Federal funding was increased from $2.1 billion in FY 2005 to $3.2 billion in FY 2006 as a result of rising numbers of households seeking assistance and continuing high energy prices. The FY 07 Continuing Resolution reduced funding to $2.1 billion, resulting in states cutting grant levels, eliminating crisis assistance and closing programs to new applicants. Grants have been reduced on average from $454 to $314. As a share of home heating costs, the average grant has declined 31.3% to 22.6% for heating oil, 47.4% to 38.3% for natural gas, 35% to 25.3% for propane and 57.3% to 37.8% for electricity. This is because the decline in energy prices has not offset the impact of the proposed reduction in program appropriations.

The Supplemental Emergency Spending bill contains $400 million in additional FY 07 funding for LIHEAP and the President has $220 million in emergency spending authority. If these funds were made available, states would be able to continue serving households who are struggling with high arrearages as a result of high prices as well as provide adequate funding this summer to address cooling needs.

-Mark Wolfe, National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association: mlwolfe@neada.org

Seed Newsvine

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

FY07 Budget Update

We are sad to report that the House and Senate Conferees on the Iraq War Supplemental have dropped the Senate language which would have restored an additional $25 million in WAP funds for FY07. This means the cuts announced by the DOE stand and funding will remain at the $204.5 million level. We must now turn our eyes to FY08 to ensure funding is restored to the highest possible levels.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Weatherization Poised to Become Issue in Presidential Campaign

On Sunday, April 22, our nation celebrated Earth Day, a time when pressing environmental issues are brought to the forefront and solutions are reflected upon for the benefit of all.

It was on this day that Candidate John Edwards chose to unveil his campaign's environmental agenda.


The platform, which includes the “Edwards Plan to Meet the Demand for More Electricity through Efficiency,” highlights what he believes are some of the most important issues in energy conservation. Among those listed is the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Clearly, weatherization for low income households has made it to the forefront-- where it belongs.

Regardless of political affiliation, it is of great significance that our Program has become a point by any party in a national election. This attests to the true effectiveness and value of the WAP, the lives it touches, and the positive environmental impact it makes.

The hard work and dedication of each and every man and woman who serves the Program has been recognized, the environmental benefits have been recognized, and our voices have clearly been heard.

We thank Mr. Edwards for his recognition of our Program and urge all political leaders, regardless of affiliation to continue this excellent dialogue which benefits all Americans.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Press Release from Oregon

Governor, Congressional Delegation
Try to Stave Off Cuts to Oregon’s
Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program

(Salem, Oregon) April 17, 2007 – Governor Ted Kulongoski and members of Oregon’s congressional delegation have urged the Bush administration not to carry out its plan to slash funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the federal Weatherization Assistance Program.

In a letter to the congressional leadership in February, the Governor noted that the LIHEAP program provides important help to low-income households, the elderly, disabled and families who make tough financial choices like paying for groceries, prescription drugs or utility bills.

The Governor praised Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, and U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Darlene Hooley, Peter DeFazio and David Wu for protesting the administration’s plan to cut the Weatherization Program by $38 million. “The federal government must not back away from its partnership with Oregon and other states—a partnership that provides help to vulnerable, hard-working families who can’t afford to weatherize their homes and still put meals on the table,” Kulongoski said. “It’s a matter of doing what’s right.”

The Bush Administration recently revised the Energy Department’s 2007 spending plan to cut 14 percent from the local weatherization program managed by Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS).

Earlier this month, Senator Wyden and Representatives Blumenauer, Hooley, and Wu signed a letter sent to Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman and Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman, urging them to maintain or increase the weatherization program as authorized in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. Representative Peter DeFazio also supported this effort.

“We hope Congress will reverse this cut before the year moves very far,” said Dan Elliott, Oregon’s Weatherization Assistance Program Manager. “We are grateful for Senator Wyden, who co-sponsored the amendment. We’re also grateful to Representatives Blumenauer, Hooley, Wu and DeFazio’s commitment to the low-income energy consumers in our state. We appreciate their effort to prevent these cuts, and we are confident they will do everything in their power to turn this decision around.”

After the Energy Department announced the cuts, the Senate amended the Iraq war supplemental emergency spending bill, instructing the Secretary of Energy to restore the program to nearly 2006 levels with funds originally designated for this purpose. However, with the fate of the supplemental spending bill caught between the White House and Congress, the future of Oregon weatherization assistance program is uncertain.

Local agencies and contractors weatherize low-income households and upgrade heating systems each year. The Department of Energy estimates these investments reduce energy use by 20 to 30 percent for at least two decades and lower home energy bills an average of $358 each year after the improvements are made.

“Until a few weeks ago, Oregon anticipated full funding for the weatherization program year, which begins April 1,” Elliott said. “Our weatherization crews are ready to go, and we are prepared to weatherize as many homes this year as last. Now we’re unsure how the federal funding situation will affect us. If these cuts are not reversed, there will be many disappointed families and households in Oregon who are currently on weatherization waiting lists.”
For more information on the OHCS low-income weatherization program, contact Dan Elliot at 503-986-2016 or email dan.elliot@hcs.state.or.us.

OHCS is the State’s housing finance agency and community services program administrator. The Department provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing for Oregonians of lower and moderate income and administers federal and state antipoverty, homeless, energy assistance and community service programs. The OHCS mission is to "Reach out for opportunities to create partnerships that improve Oregonians' lives, and the quality of our communities." For more information, visit our web site at http://www.ohcs.oregon.gov/.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Positive Note...

The WAP Blog has now been operational for 30 days. During this month, we have explored what uses we may put this forum to. Those reading may have noticed that the content is often quite passionate, if not just a bit opinionated-- particularly in regards to the Department of Energy’s clear deprioritization of the WAP. That’s because we take pride in our Program. We recognize the true impact of the WAP and how essential it is to both the environment, homes, and the clients we serve.

When we speak out, it is from true belief and passion for a program we know has changed millions of lives for the better and has made significant reductions to energy consumption since its inception. We are acting now to ensure that it will continue to do so for years to come.

Let's expand what this Blog has to offer even further...

Every day, folks from across the county are visiting this forum. Readers include Congressional staffers, the Department of Energy, and Energy Conservation/ WAP professionals from across the Network.

What better opportunity to tell our story?

Is there something new and exciting happening with your state's program, an event or accomplishment worth celebrating? A new technology or innovation you feel with be useful to your peers?

Reply to this post and share it here. Let’s celebrate our accomplishments together.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dear Colleague Letter

Please note that an addendum to the "Dear Colleague" letter circulated by the Northeast Midwest Energy Coalition in the House in support of key energy efficiency programs including funding of the WAP for FY08 at $254.5 million level and SEP at $49.5 million is now being re-circulated for signatures.

The deadline for this letter is COB April 20. We encourage you to contact your Representatives for sign-on's. If you would like a copy of this letter please contact aspector@nascsp.org.

Friday, April 6, 2007

We want to know what's important to you...

This Blog was designed as an exchange of ideas, comments, and impressions about the Program we serve. What's on your mind?

Showcase the latest developments in your state, share your comments, suggestions, and ideas-- as well as your concerns. Post a comment here and be heard! Or contact aspector@nascsp.org to submit an article to the main page of the blog.

Your wisdom and insight are welcomed.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Congratulations to Senator Sanders (I-VT), the Northeast Midwest Senate Energy Coalition, NCAF, and all those who worked on getting this amendment included in the 2007 Supplemental Bill passed by the Senate. The amendment passed on a voice vote.

As you may already know, the President has made several public statements regarding his willingness to veto this Bill until it is stripped of all special interest funding and the deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Whether he will actual back up his rhetoric with a veto of the Bill remains anybody's guess. And it is difficult to predict whether the House and Senate have enough votes to override his veto, if he uses it - although many of the political pundits don't believe the votes are there in either Chamber.

Regardless, even if the bill never becomes a law, this is still terrific news for the Program. It further demonstrates the will of Congress to fund our Weatherization efforts on behalf of low-income families at levels far above those being proposed by the Administration. Thank you Senator Sanders for believing in us.

Bob Adams

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sanders Amendment to the Supplemental Approved

We have just learned that the supplemental amendment offered by Senator Sanders (I-VT) asking DOE to restore cuts in the WAP has been approved by the Senate in the amount of $25 million, potentially bringing WAP funding for FY07 to $229.5 million.

The amendment was part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, which will now face joint conference and then Presidential approval. We will keep you posted as new developments arise.

We are truly grateful to Senators Sanders, Reed, Bingaman, Sununu, Clinton, Menendez, Wyden, Dodd and Harkin for their recognition and support of this successful program which had countless benefits for both the enviroment and community. With champions such as these, we can rest assured the Program will survive these tumultuous times.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Open Invitation

The material posted here is not and should not be a one-sided dialogue. Each time our organization and its members speak out against actions that are potentially harmful to the Program, it is not simply to hear our own voices echo back.

At times the only solution to strained relationships and a breakdown of communications is to offer a frank and clear assessment of where one stands. Each statement we make, each concern we address, is an open invitation to begin a productive discussion with all parties concerned.

It is in this spirit that we invite Mr. Karsner, and any other member of the Department of Energy to respond to our criticisms and concerns whether it be through our newsletter, listserv, or this blog.

We will gladly accept and publish any response, counter-argument, or defense offered. Once this is achieved, and both parties have had the opportunity to speak with absolute candor, we will be able to move forward and make the WAP stronger than ever before.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Karsner's Comments on the WAP

It is unfortunate that DOE's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alexander Karsner, is unaware of the workings of the programs he's responsible for managing.

If he did, he'd know that the Weatherization Program is anything but a "welfare" program. The WAP provides a vast array of state of the art energy efficiency services to dwellings occupied by families who are less fortunate than he is. But the thousands of dedicated men and women who provide these services don't provide a giveaway as intimated by Mr. Karsner.

Rather, they weatherize "houses". And those homes are proven to conserve energy and save money for those families for years after the crews and contractors complete their work.

Weatherization is an investment - not a hand out. And he should know that. But in his testimony in front of the House earlier in the week, Mr Karsner touched off a firestorm when he defended DOE's reduction of 2008 weatherization program funding to $144 million.

He said weatherization is a "poverty alleviation program," and not the type of applied research that constitutes the bulk of the department's energy efficiency programs.

Weatherization itself "is certainly worthy," said Karsner, but it really amounts to a welfare program that "must constantly compete" for federal dollars with research programs that have a higher return on the nation's energy balance.

Fortunately, Representative Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) jumped in - "When we help industry with its needs, is it welfare?" he asked Karsner.

Though Karsner asserted there is no corporate welfare in his portion of the budget and defended his position by saying that the weatherization program is "oddly lodged in this portfolio," Serrano shot back that use of the term "welfare" was demeaning to the weatherization program."This country is not doing a favor to anyone" by providing weatherization assistance, he said. The program "is not a good deed. It is an essential need the country has to provide."

"We have to be careful how we use words," Serrano said.Mr. Karsner should be more careful about how he describes the Program in public.

Maybe he should receive a briefing about the Weatherization Program or actually visit a home being weatherized before he makes other unwise and inaccurate statements about something he should already know.

What do you think?

Robert Adams is the director of WAP Services for the National Association for State Community Services Programs, the trade association representing the states in matters relating to several low-income programs including the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Monday, March 19, 2007

'07 DOE Operating Plan

Based upon the 2007 Spend Plan for the Department of Energy, Weatherization will be funded at $204.5 million - $200 million in grant activity and $4.5 million in DOE Training and Technical Assistance activity. The State Energy Program will be funded at $49.5 million.

For more information, visit http://www.energy.gov/media/FY2007OperatingPlanForDOE.pdf

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Legislative Update

2007 Budget

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was slated to receive a significant cut in the 2007 President's Budget. The Administration asked for $164.2 million in WAP funds -- a $76 million (or 33 percent) reduction from 2006. This would mean that more than 33,000 families would be denied services based on these cuts in appropriations.

In response, NASCSP provided testimony to both the Senate and House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees in support of a $242.5 million (House) and $275 million (Senate) in WAP funding level for 2007. We also supported significant increases in LIHEAP and SEP.

The House Appropriations Committee voted to provide $254.5 million for the Program. There was no final number agreed to in the Senate, but the subcommittee had initially agreed upon $204.5 million. Since Congress was unable to pass a budget for FY07, a Continuing Resolution was put in place, funding the WAP at the FY06 level of $242.5 million.

A Continuing Resolution offers leeway in determining final budget allocations and the Department of Energy may choose to fund WAP at a number significantly below Congress’s suggested amount. NASCSP, NEADA, and NASEO have worked with the Northeast/Midwest Energy Coalition in both the House and Senate to prepare "Dear Colleague" letters in support of the $254.5 million level. Several of these letters and individual responses from Members expressing their support have found their way to OMB and DOE. Most significantly, the Senate “Dear Colleague” letter received 35 signatures including Senator Robert Byrd’s. His support bodes well for our Program.

DOE and OMB are currently in the process of negotiating the final figures. We will keep you posted as these issues develop.

2008 Budget

In FY08, the Weatherization Assistance Program is once more slated to receive a cut in the President’s Budget. The Administration has asked for $144 million- a $98 million (41%) cut from the FY06 (and possible FY07) number of $242.5 million.

In response, NASCSP will provide testimony to both the Senate and House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees in support of a $275 million in WAP funding for FY08 and $74 million for State Energy Programs. We also support significant increases for LIHEAP.

Potential Transfer from DOE to HHS

Last year brought rumors about a proposed transfer of the Weatherization Assistance Program from the Department of Energy to Health and Human Services. The DOE is the only federal department concerned with energy efficiency in housing and remains the only place for the WAP to operate. An upheaval of this Program to another Department would greatly impair WAP’s ability to operate and would be detrimental to the oversight and delivery of Weatherization services everywhere.

Fortunately, this consideration was met with nearly unanimous disapproval from our State Directors, Congress and even the Department’s own State Energy Advisory Board.
NASCSP, NASEO, and NEADA worked with the Northeast/Midwest Energy Coalition in both the House and Senate to secure “Dear Colleague” letters against the move and Senators Bingaman and Domenici expressed their disapproval in a letter to Secretary Bodman and OMB Director Portman.

Bodman’s response was that they were not, at this time, seeking to move the program but were rather “studying how greater integration and coordination of this program [WAP] and HHS’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program can better serve our communities”.

We will closely monitor these plans for greater integration and what they may entail.

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