The Weatherization Assistance Program has been the heart of the federal government’s energy efficiency strategy for more than 40 years
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in introducing legislation to strengthen and reauthorize the heart of the federal government’s energy efficiency strategy—the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 would reauthorize the program through 2024.
“Access to affordable home energy during the cold winter months is a matter of health and safety for many low-income households, children, and seniors in Maine and across the country, which is why I support reauthorizing the Weatherization Assistance Program,” said Senator Collins. “Weatherization is a cost-effective way to reduce energy usage and cut low-income homeowners’ energy bills for the long-term. I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation that would reauthorize this important program and establish a new, innovative pilot program to help make homes ‘weatherization-ready’ and support cost saving practices.”
For over 40 years, WAP has assisted low-income families that lack the resources to make their homes more energy efficient. It supports 8,500 jobs and is responsible for energy efficiency upgrades in millions of homes across the country. For every dollar invested by WAP, $4.50 is generated in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as local economic growth.
The Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 would:
- Reauthorize and extend WAP through 2024;
- Allow DOE to take health and safety benefits into account when carrying out the program;
- Ensure best practices and training among WAP contractors;
- Create a competitive innovation grant program for non-profits that have a track record of success to access WAP;
- Allow homes to be reweatherized once 15 years have elapsed since the last weatherization and clarify that related services—such as education, installation evaluations, or non-federally funded services—may be provided at any time; and
- Encourage DOE to provide maximum flexibility when WAP funding is being used to leverage additional private sector funding.
As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, preserving funding for heating assistance and weatherization programs is a priority for Senator Collins. She has worked to block attempts to pare back the funding appropriated for these critical programs. Following her strong advocacy, the fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water funding bill that was signed into law last September included $254 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program.