By Rebecca Stewart
The Northeast-Midwest coalition, in conjunction with the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), hosted a briefing on the importance of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP) on Tuesday, October 17th in the Capitol Visitor’s Center in Washington, D.C.
Speakers for the event included David Terry, Executive Director for NASEO; Arley Johnson, Director of Government Relations, NASCSP; Jo-Ann Choate, Program Manager, Maine State Housing Authority; Ron Rees, Executive Director, Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD); and Malcolm Woolf, Director, Maryland Energy Administration.
Arley Johnson opened the event, speaking about the history of WAP, its successes under the Recovery Act, and the need for future funding to ensure continued success. David Terry followed Arley and introduced the SEP and state energy offices, stated their purpose, and gave some examples of successes in allowing states to determine the recipients of energy funding.
Ron Rees spoke next on the success of WAP in the state of Ohio. He played a short video on a project currently underway in Murray City, Ohio where COAD is going door to door and weatherizing every home in the small city. He mentioned the impressive Recovery Act statistics from his state: nearly all Recovery Act dollars expended, with over 35,000 homes weatherized since 2009, almost 140% of their original Recovery Act goal. COAD was responsible for over 8,400 of these units thus far and will reach nearly 9,500 by March 31, 2012. These achievements and the nearly 1,200 jobs created in Ohio were a result of the Recovery Act, he added, and will disappear unless funding to the program is maintained.
Jo-Ann Choate followed Ron, speaking about Maine’s experience with WAP. Weatherization originated in Maine, Jo-Ann reminded the crowd, as ‘winterization.’ Maine has remained a cutting edge leader in the field of WAP, pioneering initiatives such as a joint venture with Chevrolet to sell carbon credits from weatherized homes to finance additional weatherization units. Leveraging projects like these are one of the reasons Maine has been successful not only in the Recovery Act but with regular program funding as well, both in job creation and in saving low-income families in Maine money and saving energy overall. Jo-Ann echoed Ron’s sentiment that only with continued funding could Maine continue to leverage funding to sustain their weatherization network.
The program ended with Malcolm Woolf from Maryland speaking about the work of SEP in his state. Through innovative programs and funding, SEP has created jobs, saved energy, and increased the state’s renewable energy portfolio. Without continued funding, he maintained, SEP would not be able to further energy investments like those in Maryland.
The briefing was a success with over thirty-five Senate and House staffers, key decision makers in their offices, attending. Future discussions will continue on an individual basis with these staffers based on the briefing. A big thank you to Ron Rees, Jo-Ann Choate, and Malcolm Woolf for participating in the briefing.