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U.S. Dept. of Energy: Obama administration delivers more than $56 million for weatherization programs in Wisconsin

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Recovery Act funding to expand weatherization assistance programs, create jobs and weatherize more than 18,400 Wisconsin homes

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that the Department of Energy is providing $56.6 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand weatherization assistance programs in Wisconsin. These funds, along with additional funds to be disbursed after the state meets certain Recovery Act milestones, will help to weatherize more than 18,400 homes, cutting energy costs for low-income families that need it, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating green jobs across the state.

Today’s announcement includes weatherization funding for a total of thirteen states: Alabama, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, and Wyoming. Across the country, the Department of Energy will deliver more than $448 million that will help these states achieve their goal of weatherizing more than 125,000 homes.

Wisconsin is receiving 40 percent of its total Recovery Act weatherization funding today following approval of a comprehensive state plan. This installment adds to the initial 10 percent funding allocation previously awarded to Wisconsin for training and ramp-up activities. The remaining 50 percent of funds will be released when the state meets reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act. Under the Recovery Act, the state may spend up to 20 percent of the funds to hire and train workers.

After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, Wisconsin will receive an additional $70.8 million, for a total in excess of $141 million.

“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.”

Wisconsin will use its Recovery Act funds to weatherize or re-weatherize more than 18,400 homes over the course of the next three years. The weatherization program is administered by the Division of Energy of the Wisconsin Department of Administration. The Division awards grants to community action agencies and a variety of public and non-profit entities to deliver weatherization services across the state. Typical weatherization work includes instrumented air sealing; insulation of attics, sidewalls and other areas that define the heating envelope; refrigerator replacement; electric water heater replacement; mechanical adjustments such as cleaning and tune-up; furnace replacements when necessary; and lighting replacement with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescents. Wisconsin will supplement these measures with leveraged funds to provide freezer replacement and expanded health and safety measures that are necessary to maintain the indoor air quality in weatherized homes.

The State of Wisconsin requires local organizations to prioritize weatherization services to elderly and handicapped residents. Of the total units completed by each agency, at least 10 percent must be households with elderly residents and 5 percent must be households with persons with disabilities.

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.

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.

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