For Immediate Release:
(ST. PAUL, MN) Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed Oct. 30, 2012 Weatherization Day in the state of Minnesota. This Proclamation was issued to recognize the successful efforts led by the Commerce Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program to improve the lives of low-income Minnesotans and boost local economies across the state.
“The Commerce Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program has been a national leader in delivering cost-effective services and making homes more energy efficient, safe, and healthy,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Our state-wide network has reduced residential energy costs by an average of 35 percent, affecting more than 50,000 homes. We also have been a model for ramping up a weatherization workforce and creating long-term private sector opportunities.”
Program exceeds goal, serves nearly 20,000
In Minnesota, the Commerce Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program has been helping low-income families and individuals reduce their energy bills with energy-saving services since 1976. The program stepped up its service over the last three years when it received $138 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. With the added federal funding, the Minnesota program served nearly 20,000 households, far exceeding its goal of 16,858 homes for the three-year period. Families receiving services realize annual energy bill reductions of up to $400 per household.
Nationally, weatherization created or retained an average of 12,000 direct jobs per quarter over the course of the ARRA program, making the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) one of the leading job-creating partnerships out of 200 federal programs funded by ARRA. In Minnesota, the weatherization program created or retained nearly 500 jobs per quarter from Sept. 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011.
One million households served nationwide
Weatherization services enable low-income families to reduce their energy bills. The services make homes more energy efficient through wall and attic insulation, air sealing, and repairs or replacement of home heating systems.
Five billion dollars in weatherization stimulus funds were allocated to states nationwide in 2009. Nationally, the program just reached its goal of weatherizing 1 million homes across the country on September 27, 2012. In Minnesota, the influx of funding required hiring of staff and private contractors for the 30 local service providers who carry out the program at the local level.
It also meant hiring more residential energy auditors to assess homes. As a result, the Commerce Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program generated jobs for the construction industry and created expanded partnerships with local gas and electric utilities.
Sustainable Resources Center (SRC), a local service provider that administers weatherization programming for parts of Hennepin County, increased its skilled workforce to meet the demand for weatherization services. Jake McAlpine, a residential energy auditor hired by SRC in 2009, experienced the weatherization boom firsthand.
“Weatherization programs needed full-time skilled energy auditors for the massive expansion of the program,” McAlpine said. “We immediately set up a job orientation program and brought on board 16 staff, half of whom were energy auditors. The increased need for weatherization also expanded job opportunities for insulation companies.”
McAlpine said that weatherization achieved its job generation goals, but that the end of federal stimulus funding this year has led to some cutbacks. “Some auditors are now transitioning to private sector jobs, and we’re seeing a slow market transformation to private green jobs,” he said.
In addition to jobs, weatherization’s economic benefits provided a ripple effect. A University of Minnesota Extension study found that for every direct job funded by weatherization, an additional three-quarter of a job was created in the private sector in the state. The study also concluded that each dollar spent on weatherization generated an additional $1.09, on average, of economic activity in Minnesota. For every dollar earned by a weatherization worker, an additional 86 cents was earned by workers in other state industries.
For more information on the Commerce Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program, visit Energy Division site or call 651-296-5175 or 800-657-3710.