By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
To say the winters in Wisconsin are cold is like saying the sun is rising in the east – it’s a given. But the facts don’t pay the cost of energy bills, which is why programs like the US Department of Energy’s Weathering Assistance Program exist.
The program began in 1976 and has helped more than 7 million families, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The program aims to make homes more energy efficient, which it does by caulking windows and doors, installing insulation, replacing / repairing water heaters and more.
On Wednesday, December 15, the Department of Energy announced an $ 18 million funding opportunity, which will help state, local and tribal governments improve their weather relief programs. The announcement is part of President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce utility costs for low-income households.
Ali Zaidi is the President’s Senior Advisor on National Climate Policy. He spoke to the Milwaukee Courier about the administration’s goal of revamping the weatherization program.
“The important recognition when you look at energy costs is how they have consistently, over the decades, been a real challenge for low-income communities, especially communities of color,” Zaidi said.
The weatherization assistance program is something that works and cannot be outsourced, Zaidi said, and the president’s goal was to go further and bolder with it. The idea was presented to Congress, where it received bipartisan support and dollars to invest in weatherization efforts, Zaidi said.
With funding, the program will be able to improve its operations, expand its reach, and become more accessible to Americans in need. The White House works with unions, trade schools and technical colleges to train workers and create a diverse workforce.
“We are excited about the improvements to the program and that will amplify over the course of the $ 3.5 trillion the president has been able to secure by working with people on both sides of the aisle,” he said. declared.
Jennifer Granholm, the US Secretary of Energy, expressed her enthusiasm on Twitter.
“Today I’m happy to announce that we are making over $ 18 million from the bipartisan infrastructure bill available to @POTUS to expand and improve our weatherization assistance program – relieving the pressure that energy bills are weighing on American families, ”Granholm wrote.
Zaidi noted that climate change threatens the reliability and resilience of the country’s power grid. Biden’s Build Back Better plan aims to invest in projects such as the elevation of power substations, load-bearing power lines and grid upgrades.
“We see the climate weighing on the energy system,” Zaidi said. “This generates tens of billions of dollars in costs which are absorbed by our economy and by our consumers. Tackling the climate crisis head-on is the way to solve this problem and part of the solution must be to invest in these improvements in resilience. “