Skip to content

July 2012 WAP Wire


Announcements

IBTS inspections are moving through the state at a quick pace. We now know that you may receive little or no notice of their arrival. We highly recommend that you accompany the IBTS inspectors as they complete the inspections. Remember, they are looking mainly at what is on the work order to verify that work was completed. They tend not to interact with us very much. Be cautious about offering information, but do answer any questions. Please give your monitor a call when you are notified they will be arriving. 

All Service Providers have received notice that Davis Bacon corrections must be completed by Subcontractors and returned to the state before July 31, 2012. DOL and DOE are particularly concerned about underpaid wages. Thank you for your cooperation with this process. As you know, this was also a finding on the most recent Office of Legislative Audit report.  If you have questions, please contact Eric Boyd at eric.boyd@state.mn.us or 651-539-1866.

Policy Spotlight

The link to the EAP/WX Guidance 2012-2013 is below. This policy will reside in the Appendix of the WAP Policy Manual. We hope that the provisions will be temporary and that full regular Weatherization funding will be available next year. There are some limitations, especially on multifamily. But EAP and WAP staff have agreed that the average per dwelling will be $5000 with an additional Health and Safety average per household of $1000. 

We understand that there will be questions as we use only EAP/WX funds on dwellings. We will address each issue as it comes and will establish a method to share questions and answers as we go. It will likely take the form of a FAQ that will be available on our website. Here is the link: http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/images/EAP-WX-Transfer-Guide.pdf 

Policy Updates

Several policies in the Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program Policy Manual either have been, or will be updated. Some updates are due to changes in DOE rules and regulations and some are to clarify DOE or state policies. 

In addition to the changes in the actual policies, WAP staff will be working to make the policy manual easier to navigate. The manual has been often revised but is in need of an organizational overhaul. This will take place over this next contract year. Two organizational goals are to provide a better paging system and a more efficient index. It is a big task and we want to do it correctly. We are grateful for the suggestions already provided and will gladly accept more as we undertake this task.

A recent email to coordinators and executive directors included the following policies:

  • The inclusion of the ECM Motor Retrofit and Horizontal Attic Access and the two approved User Defined Measures in the Appendix.
  • Removal of the Building Tightness and Air Sealing policy. It is no longer applicable.
  • Required Weatherization Test to clarify that contractors must complete a Worst Case Depressurization test.
  • Walk Away – When Not to Weatherize. Deferral or walk away of a dwelling in the process of being remodeled was moved from the May walk away list to the Must walk away list. 
  • The Renovate Right form is no longer in the Appendix, but can be found in the Forms section.

Monitoring Updates

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allowed the Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program to assist over 19,500 families to lower energy costs and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Along with the unprecedented amount of funding came an equally unprecedented amount of scrutiny. DOE has emphasized rules and regulations and consequences for not following those rules and regulations. A great deal of this scrutiny is due to the mostly negative, non-Minnesota press on ARRA Weatherization work. 

We continue to hear from DOE that quality must improve. This is a general statement and is a response to Congressional pressure to greatly reduce funding due to the reports of bad work. While we in Minnesota are extremely proud of the work we do, we must remain diligent on the quality of work and the adherence to DOE rules and regulations. So, if you think your monitor is a little picky, he or she most likely is – for good reason. We are doing everything we can to prove to DOE and to Congress that we have the best program in the country. As I have said before, your job is to complete work according to all DOE rules and regulations and our monitoring job is make sure that it is. 

If you believe that your individual monitor is stepping beyond what you believe is a DOE or State rule or regulation, please contact me at marilou.cheple@state.mn.us or 651-539-1865.

Program Updates

As you are aware, the Weatherization Assistance Program is in danger of greatly reduced funding by Congress and the White House for the 2013-2014 funding year.  Some say that the program is in a fight for survival. Rest assured that MinnCAP is doing a great job of letting both the White House and Congress know how important this program is to contractors in our state. Karen Moe attended a meeting with presidential advisors and our national organizational groups (NASCSP and AFTOA) on June 15, 2012. Minnesota was represented by the Energy Conservatory. At the state level, we have alerted our Congressional delegation of the dire consequences of greatly reduced funds, and have solicited their support.

Training

With limited training funds for the coming year, we have greatly curtailed what training we believe can be offered for this year. That said, we will address your immediate training needs as quickly as we can. One important requirement is the training for the compliance to ASHRAE 62.2. You should all have received an email announcing five sessions of ASHRAE training provided by Fond du Lac College. This course is approved by DER and is offered at a reasonable cost. All auditors and inspectors must attend. I encourage coordinators to attend also. If you did not receive notice of these trainings, please let me know.

We will soon release an RFP for trainers for the four administrative curriculum recently developed. The four trainings are: Client Education, Program Management, Project Management, and Fiscal Management. We hope to have the first course ready by late summer 2012. Two courses for each module are expected to be offered before the end of December 2012. More information will follow as we progress with these trainings. 

We also hope to have training on vermiculite and asbestos. A short presentation on this topic will be offered at the MinnCAP Conference in Rochester in September. In addition, we hope to have a training aimed more specifically for our WAP audience later this year. 

Minnesota WAP, NASCSP, and MinnCAP are sponsoring a day-long, Weatherization Plus Healthy Homes training on September 18, 2012. This is a pre-conference training to the MinnCAP Conference 2012: Strategies for Sustainability that will be held in Rochester on September 19-21, 2012. WAP staff have priority for this training. For more information, visit the MinnCAP website: http://www.mncaa.org/ 

WA training continues for both basic and advanced WA. If you need WA training, please contact me.