As Temperatures Drop and Heating Bills Soar, Gillibrand Urges Administration to Fund Weatherization Assistance Program

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More Than Two Thousand Long Island Families Already On Waiting Lists – Weatherization Saves Households Up To $400 Per Year On Their Heating And Cooling Bills In 2013, Long Island's Weatherization Funding Was Reduced By A Million Dollars, Future Cuts Could Decimate The Program Program Supports Local Construction, Small Business, And Jobs, With Every $1 Invested, Weatherization Returns $2.51 In Benefits To Households And Community

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Garvin President & CEO, CDCLI and Ms. Elsie Vaccaro recipient of Weatherization Assitance

“CDCLI is grateful for Senator Gillibrand’s commitment to ensuring continued support for the federal Weatherization program, which we administer on Long Island on behalf of New York State,” said Marianne Garvin, President and CEO of CDCLI.

With temperatures on Long Island dropping and heating bills soaring, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged the Administration to fund the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP). Joining her was Marianne Garvin, President and CEO of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, (CDCLI), who administers the WAP program for Long Island. WAP helps families reduce energy bills by making homes more energy efficient. Funds are used to improve the energy performance in homes using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry. In New York, SEP helps fund the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) to support a broad range of programs, including long-term energy planning, efforts to increase efficiency in public buildings and reduce costs to the public, program to support energy-efficient manufacturing, perform energy audits and retrofits, and support research in home and commercial energy efficiency improvements.

Also joining the Senator was Ms. Elsie Vaccaro of Bohemia. Ms. Vaccaro was waitlisted for a year and a half before receiving vital upgrades to her home this past December. Through the WAP program, Ms. Vaccaro’s home received air sealing, insulation, vapor barriers to prevent mold, health and safety upgrades, and three new windows.

“With winter here and temperatures plummeting, that means higher energy costs for families and businesses,” said Senator Gillibrand. “During these tough economic times, and in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, many New Yorkers simply cannot afford this added strain on their budgets – especially since New Yorkers already pay more than the national average for energy costs. Weatherization programs help save families hundreds on energy costs while supporting local construction, small businesses, and manufacturing jobs.”

“CDCLI is grateful for Senator Gillibrand’s commitment to ensuring continued support for the federal Weatherization program, which we administer on Long Island on behalf of New York State,” said Marianne Garvin, President and CEO of Community Development Corporation of Long Island. “While we recognize that there are many programs worthy of support, we believe weatherization – which provides free energy efficiency improvements to homes and apartments - is unique in its ability to provide warmth, comfort and cost savings for thousands of Long Islanders in need.”

There are currently 1,177 homes in Nassau and 858 homes in Suffolk on the waiting list under this program. Over the last few years, the Community Development Corporation of Long Island has received less funding from the Federal Government for this program, which has resulted in less homes completed, and longer wait lists:

2008 Contract Amount 2,968,625 Units Completed 596

2009 Contract Amount 4,812,286 Units Completed 692

2010 Contract Amount 3,436,741 Units Completed 493

2011 Contract Amount 3,820,731 Units Completed 550

2012 Contract Amount 3,806,432 Units Completed 596

2013 Contract Amount 2,391,364 Units Completed Projected 475

2009 Contract Amount 14,234,795      ARRA* 2969
*American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

With cold winters and high energy prices, these programs are uniquely important in New York. In 2005, State residents expended, on average, $2,409 per household on energy costs, compared to a national average of $1,810. As a result, weatherization investments are particularly helpful in assisting families: each dollar invested in program activities can save an estimated $3 in energy costs over the life of the installed measures.

Additionally, the dramatic storms that swept across New York over the past two years caused significant damage, including to home heating, cooling and insulation systems. This damage is expected to significantly increase the number of New Yorkers who could benefit from weatherization assistance.

Specifically, Senator Gillibrand urged President Obama to include no less than $210 million for WAP and $50 million for SEP in his FY 2014 budget.

During the last 33 years, WAP has helped more than 7 million families nationally save money by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, freeing up finite resources for other essentials like food and medicine. Weatherization saves households on average up to $400 per year on their heating and cooling bills. Since the energy improvements that make up weatherization services are long lived, the savings add up over time to substantial benefits for weatherization clients and their communities, and the nation as a whole. This program supports local construction, small businesses, and manufacturing jobs.

In New York, WAP is administered by the Division of Homes and Community Renewal, which distributes funds to local affiliates who manage the program in each county. Assistance is available to both homeowners and renters who pay their own utility costs through local weatherization providers in each of New York’s 62 counties. Households at or below 60 percent of state median income are eligible for the program. A range of efficiency improvements can be conducted through the program, with energy use analyses used to determine the most cost-effective improvements. Energy efficiency measures performed through the program include air sealing (weatherstripping, caulking), wall and ceiling insulation, heating system improvements or replacement, efficiency improvements in lighting, hot water tank and pipe insulation, and refrigerator replacements with highly efficient Energy Star rated units.

SEP allows states to assist with the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and effectively works with the private and public sectors to produce significant returns. According to a study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, every dollar of SEP federal funds are leveraged by $10.71 of state and private funds, and result in $7.22 in annual energy savings.

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Christine Pagliari
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