State spending on weatherization varies widely

    Delaware leads the way when it comes to weatherizing homes with federal stimulus funding.

    A special report from the U.S. Department of Energy shows only 5% of planned weatherization improvements utilizing stimulus funds have been completed one year after the program started.  Some states haven’t completed any of their planned improvements.

    Delaware, which received $13.7 million for weatherization efforts such as caulking and insulating, has completed 34% of it’s planned improvements, the highest percentage of any state.

    While the state’s size does play a role, Delaware’s stimulus “czar,” Lt. Governor Matt Denn says the state’s culture of cooperation helps too.

    “There are a number of small states that haven’t done nearly as well as Delaware has, not even a fraction as well as Delaware has,” Denn said.  “So, having small size and knowing one another and having worked with one another in the past certainly helps, but I think it’s also the quality of the people who are doing the work.”

    As for other states in the region, Pennsylvania has done less than 2% of it’s weatherization, while New Jersey has done less than half a percent.

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    The weatherization spending funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is designed to help low income homeowners save energy and save money on utilities, but it’s also part of an effort to create jobs.

    Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf is overseeing implementation of the weatherization program in the state.  She says getting more than a third of the jobs done has provided a great opportunity for training workers.

    “Many Delawareans gained valuable training and continue to gain valuable training and work experience, which makes them more marketable in today’s volatile employment environment,” Landgraf said.

    Landgraf says the federal grant money also allowed the state to create a new initiative to combine weatherization efforts with community revitalization efforts with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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