Weatherization program raises concerns in Senate Committee

A 2009 program intended to create jobs in low-income areas and improve energy efficiency sparked debate in a Senate Committee May 14, when Senate Republican lawmakers raised concerns about problems within the state’s Urban Weatherization Program, recently identified by the Better Government Association (BGA).

Five years into the program, the BGA found that the Urban Weatherization Program was in disarray. The government watchdog organization noted that of the $16 million spent, $13 million—or more than 80 percent—of that had been spent on administrative and training costs, instead of actual home improvement repairs. Additionally, the program fell significantly short of its 1,000 home improvement goal, having only upgraded 183 homes since the program was created in 2009.

Senate Republicans on the committee voted against House Bill 3194, which would have increased grant awards for the Urban Weatherization Program from the current $500,000 to $2 million, and upped the amount spent to improve homes from $6,500 to $10,000. They expressed serious concerns about the amount of money being directed into a program that has failed to meet its initial benchmarks, particularly when the state is facing a serious financial crisis.

Chapin Rose

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