Joe Diamond (MASSCAP) responds to Globe article criticizing weatherization program

 On March 28, 2010 the Boston Globe published an article written by Garance Burke of the Associated Press titled “Obama’s weatherizing program lags far behind on its job goals,” criticizing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Weatherization Assistance Program.  In the article, the Burke states that the number of retrofit jobs and construction jobs created has not met expectations. “After a year of crippling delays, President Obama’s $5 billion program to install weather-tight windows and doors has retrofitted a fraction of homes and created far fewer construction jobs than expected.” While the article points out a number of states that have not met their goals, it does not mention the success the state of Massachusetts has had with the program. In response to this article, Joseph Diamond of Massachusetts Association for Community Action and Elliot Jacobson & John Wells from the Low Income Energy Affordability Network submitted this letter to the Boston Globe:

To the Globe:

The article “Obama’s weatherization program lags far behind on its job goals”(Sunday Globe, March 28) criticizes the performance of the Weatherization Programs in Alaska, Wyoming, California and other states. While several states may be struggling, Massachusetts weatherization providers are on track to meet and exceed the Obama Administration’s production goals and job targets. Over the past year, Massachusetts weatherization providers have completed energy efficiency improvements in more than 4,400 homes. All of these homes are occupied by low income families who would otherwise not have been able to afford new insulation, air sealing, and other efficiency upgrades. Over the past year, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Conservation Services Group, and the weatherization network have identified, trained and qualified new contractors, resulting in a near doubling of the weatherization contractor base and several hundred new jobs.

It is always challenging to quickly expand a federal program, but Massachusetts has met that challenge. Nationally, despite obstacles, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) reports that low income weatherization unit production in 2009 increased 70% over the previous year while the allowable expenditure per unit more than doubled. This means that more low income households are getting energy efficiency improvements– and each household served gets more significant improvements than were achievable before American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

In Massachusetts, a utility-funded low-income efficiency program operates in coordination with the federal program. It is similarly on track, despite and increased goal of reaching 50% more households this year.

We are proud of these accomplishments and grateful for the help we have received in achieving them, particularly from the DHCD and the Massachusetts gas and electric utilities (including Cape Light Compact), which administer the federal and utility programs, respectively.

Sincerely,

Joseph Diamond

Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP)

Elliot Jacobson & John Wells

Low Income Energy Affordability Network

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