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Barack Obama started talking about wanting to weatherize more low-income homes long before the economic crisis. During the campaign, he mostly talked about it as a way to reduce the country’s carbon footprint, reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut energy costs for low-income families. When the economy turned sour, he then emphasized that it also could create thousands of green jobs. That’s how it got included in the economic stimulus package he signed on Feb. 17.

The weatherization program provides money to qualified homeowners for such things as insulation, smoke detectors and furnace and air conditioner repair or replacement. The WAP estimates that residents save about $400 to $500 on energy costs in the first year following the weatherization improvements.

Although Obama was criticized by some Republican leadership for including weatherization in the stimulus bill - House Republican leader John Boehner said it had “no place in a bill designed to get our economy moving again” - the final $789 billion stimulus package included $5 billion to massively expand the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The original House version of the stimulus bill included $6.2 billion for weatherization; the Senate version countered with $2.9 billion. House and Senate negotiators settled on $5 billion.

So is it enough to reach Obama’s goal of one million homes a year?

“It‘ll get close,” said Mark Wolfe of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, which represents state-run low-income energy assistance programs.

To give you some perspective, the WAP got $447 million from the federal government this year, and expects to weatherize about 150,000 homes.

The agency that runs the program says it can, but it will take some time. According to a WAP estimate, the stimulus money will allow the program to reach 500,000 homes by the end of 2009; and then get to a capacity of 1 million homes a year by the end of 2010.

SondraK, unapologetic Lympian Slayer SondraK, unapologetic Lympian Slayer
02/20 at 08:13 PM •
(8) Say it, don't spray it...*link*
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