Weatherization Allocation and the FY2013 Budget proposal
On February 8, 2012, the Department of Energy (DOE) released the $68 million appropriated for the 2012 program year starting July 1, 2012. Twenty-five of the 58 states/territories received $0. Congress made deep cuts to the low-income energy efficiency program and, in doing so, allowed DOE to use their discretion in allocating the $68 million this program year. Traditionally, a funding formula is used to allocate the funds across the states. DOE chose a formula that took into consideration carry-over funding from previous program years and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. It appears that states that spent their ARRA monies first are penalized with the current DOE decision.
While the allocations for FY2012 have disappointed many, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), is facing scrutiny in political areas despite the fact that the low-income residential energy efficiency program has consistently been one of the top performing programs funded through ARRA. DOE announced earlier this month that the WAP moved up to 2nd out of approximately 200 federal programs in the number of direct jobs created or retained—13,186 for the fourth quarter beginning October 1 and ending December 31, 2011. You can see the rankings by clicking here. Since the first quarter 2010, WAP has been ranked in the top 10 in the number of ARRA jobs created. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu recently highlighted this exceptional achievement with a press release congratulating the network for weatherizing 600,000 homes ahead of schedule. You can read the press release here.
The recent allocation decisions from DOE further solidify the strange lack of support the Obama Administration has for this effective energy efficiency program. Three years ago, the Administration was pushing for $6.5 billion in funding for weatherization. The program was a poster child for the green economy, a shining example of a career path for entering into the field of energy efficiency, energy conservation, and healthy communities. Congress settled on $5 billion funding for the program. Despite early hurdles—Davis Bacon, Historical Preservation, DOE slowness, state bureaucracies—the Weatherization network, primarily Community Action Agencies, met most of the goals of the program. To repay these efforts, the Administration requested $135 million in this year’s budget.
The lack of support in the Administration’s FY2013 budget proposal combined with the confusing allocation decisions that were published last week, all points to a troubling time for home energy efficiency. It is up to those involved in this community to stand up for a successful program and remind Congress and the Administration of the great successes of the program.
There is neither an appeal process nor any reserved pool of funds to settle appeals in response to the recent DOE decision. Every state must revise its FY 2011 plan and a number must also write a 2012 plan. More information regarding DOE’s funding allocation can be found at the NCAF website.
David Bradley is the Executive Director of the National Community Action Foundation (NCAF).
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