Senators Collins, Reed Urge Administration to Release Funding to Help Americans Make Energy Efficient Home Upgrades

Projects funded by the Weatherization Assistance Program help families permanently reduce home heating costs

Washington, D.C.—As home heating prices skyrocket and winter approaches, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) sent a letter to President Biden today to urge his administration to quickly release funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program.  The bipartisan infrastructure package signed into law last week included $3.5 billion for this program.  Projects funded by the Weatherization Assistance Program have helped single-family homes save an average of $283 annually on energy costs.

 

“The $3.5 billion for [the Weatherization Assistance Program] included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a historic level of investment in home energy efficiency that is particularly vital today,” Senators Collins and Reed wrote.  “With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas, and other fuels, this additional money is critical in helping New Englanders keep energy costs down.” 

 

“Weatherizing homes is a one-time investment that can permanently lower a household’s energy bills and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Senators Collins and Reed continued.  “We urge your administration to prioritize releasing the funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program and look forward to working with you and the Department of Energy to get this money into the hands of local providers that can begin weatherizing homes as soon as possible.”

 

The EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook reports households nationwide will spend more on energy this winter compared with the past several winters due to higher energy prices.  Maine is disproportionally affected by this rise in cost since 60 percent of Maine’s households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating, compared to only four percent of households nationally.  A typical Maine household will spend nearly $1,000 more this year on home heating oil.  

 

Senator Collins was one of the 10 Senators who negotiated the bipartisan infrastructure package that includes an historic $3.5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which helps low-income families make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes that cut their energy bills.  For every dollar invested by WAP, $4.50 is generated in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as job creation.

 

As senior members of the Appropriations Committee, Senators Collins and Reed have also long led the effort to fully fund the LIHEAP program – a critical lifeline that helps prevent low-income families and seniors from having to make the impossible choice between paying for heat or buying food or medicine.  As a result of their efforts this year, Maine will receive $35 million in LIHEAP funding and Rhode Island will receive nearly $22 million to help households keep warm during the long winter months.

 

Click HERE to read Senators Collins and Reed’s letter.  The full text of the letter is below.

 

November 22, 2021

 

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

President of the United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Biden,

 

We join you in celebrating the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. With energy prices reaching alarmingly high levels, we write to urge swift release of the historic $3.5 billion investment included in this bill for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Extending this funding to households in need will help bring needed relief to families, particularly during the winter months.

 

The Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities make lasting energy efficiency improvements to their homes. The reduced energy costs free up limited financial resources for essentials such as food and medicine. Throughout the history of the program, which has spanned more than four decades, WAP has helped more than 7.4 million low-income households reduce their energy bills. An independent study of WAP by Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that each dollar spent on weatherization produces $4.50 in benefits, including energy savings. Using WAP, single-family homes have saved an average of $283 annually on energy costs. 

 

The $3.5 billion for WAP included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a historic level of investment in home energy efficiency that is particularly vital today. With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas, and other fuels, this additional money is critical in helping New Englanders keep energy costs down. The EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook reports households nationwide could see their heating bills jump as much as 54 percent over last winter. Without financial assistance through WAP, families will continue to live in leaky, inefficient homes, which will only raise their energy prices even more. Weatherizing homes is a one-time investment that can permanently lower a household’s energy bills and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

 

We urge your administration to prioritize releasing the funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program and look forward to working with you and the Department of Energy to get this money into the hands of local providers that can begin weatherizing homes as soon as possible. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,