Nearly 11,000 homes have been weatherized across the state through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) since July of last year.
The state was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy for its “dedication and extraordinary efforts” toward the goals of the Recovery Act. Only eleven other states were recognized.
A network of 18 community and local government agencies has helped Tennessee reach its WAP goals, officials said.
“Our partners across the state have worked tirelessly to meet and even exceed the goals we set out for them last year,” said DHS Commissioner Gina Lodge.
“More than 10,000 Tennessee families are reaping the benefits along with hundreds of energy auditors and contractors who were put to work through this program.”
In the past, Tennessee could weatherize only a few thousand homes a year with its average annual budget of $3-4 million for the federally funded program. The Recovery Act sent $99 million to Tennessee for this home energy efficiency program last September. As of Aug. 31, more than $40 million had been spent and Tennessee currently ranks 6th in the nation for number of homes weatherized under ARRA. The program will continue until the funds are exhausted.
Cost effective weatherization measures, including adding insulation and weather stripping, are performed to make a home more energy efficient, thereby lowering a home’s energy burden and reducing the consumer’s utility bills. Eligibility for the program is based on established federal poverty guidelines, and income and cannot exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty limit (that’s $44,100/year for a family of four). Interested applicants may download a short application from the DHS website and submit it to their local Weatherization agency.
Tennessee developed a unique competitive bid process for WAP jobs to allow as many agency-approved, licensed contractors to participate and work in the program. The jobs are posted on-line at the TN DHS website, and bids are submitted to the local agency. The low bidder is awarded the job and payment is not made until the weatherized home passes a post-inspection energy audit.
In addition to the on-line job posting, TN DHS posts a weekly update of agency performance showing exactly how many homes each WAP agency has weatherized. Seventeen of the 18 agencies have met or exceeded their goal for the year.