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Weatherization Funding: 2013 and 2014

Thursday, June 27, 2013
Funding for the Program Year 2013 for the Weatherization Assistance Program was released on Friday, June 21. The Department of Energy (DOE) released the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the WAP at the level of $137.9 million. You can view the FOA here and the WPN 13-2 that sets State Allocations here. This funding level is nearly $70 million more than the Continuing Resolution passed level of only $68 million by Congress for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 due to reprogramming of funds within DOE.  

Congress has already begun the process of setting the FY 14 funding levels for WAP this week. The House passed Appropriations Committee level for WAP is $77.1 million, up from the FY 13 level of $54 million. The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee passed at the President's requested level of $184 million, up from $145 million last year. During the full Appropriations Committee meeting, another $6 million in funding was added to the program, bringing the Senate appropriations level for the program up to $190 million.   
While there are nearly final numbers in the House and Senate, it is unlikely the two chambers will be able to conference the two bills to come to a final agreement. In the event they do not, Congress will likely pass another series of continuing resolutions (CRs) as they have in past years. WAP funding would be based on the last passed funding level in FY'12 of $68 million.
Though it is likely another CR will determine the FY 14 for WAP, it is encouraging that the funding level for the Program is up in both chambers at a time when many Programs are being cut back dramatically.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 4:39 PM
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Legislative Update - WAP FY'13 and FY'14 funding

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has been in the spotlight on Capitol Hill over the last month with prodigious legislative activity around funding for FY 2013 and FY 2014, including:

(1) March 22nd – The Reed-Collins Amendment on the Budget Resolution in the Senate adding $50M to the WAP budget for FY 2014 passed in the Senate;

(2) March 28th – Thirty four Senators signed onto a Reed-Collins letter urging the Secretary of Energy to use his discretion to increase WAP funding for the balance of FY 2013 from the Continuing Resolution Level of $68 million;

(3) April 24th – Representatives Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) crafted a similar letter in the House to the Secretary of Energy asking for an increase in the WAP FY 2013 allocation;

(4) April 24th – Representatives Hanna and Tonko additionally circulated a letter to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations asking for an increase in FY 2014 funding for WAP. The letter was signed by over 60 House Members; and

(5) April 26th – Senators Reed and Collins wrote a letter to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee seeking $230M for WAP in FY 2014 — that letter is now finalized and signed by 40 Senators following our all-out effort the past few days.

To date there has been no decision on FY’13 funding from the Department of Energy though a decision is expected any day now.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 12:00 PM
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President Obama releases Fy 2014 budget request

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget request today, nearly two months later than normal. The budget focuses on the middle class while reducing the deficit and replacing the sequester with more specific budget cuts and tax increases. You can read President Obama's introduction to the budget here.

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) received an allocation of $184 million. This figure is up from the FY 2013 allocation of $139 million, but below the $210 million 34 Senators requested of the Administration earlier this year (see letter here). The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) received an allocation of $3 billion, the same as in FY 2013. The entire Department of Energy request including WAP can be found here. The LIHEAP request is found in the Health and Human Services request here.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 1:33 PM
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Legislative Update: WAP in the FY'13 Budget

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Today, President Obama signed the Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government running through the end of the federal fiscal year (FY) in September 30, 2013. By and large, the CR pushed forward funding from the last fiscal year forward into this one. For the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), this means the low FY’12 budget allocation of $68 million was upheld for FY’13 despite the fact that the rationale behind the low FY’12 allocation—namely unspent Recovery Act and program funding—no longer holds true. The Department of Energy does have the discretion to increase this allocation within its own budget; however, at this time there has been no decision on a final WAP allocation for FY’13 by the Department. 

Work on the FY’14 budget has already begun here in Washington. Though usually released near the State of the Union address in late January or early February, the President’s Budget request for FY’14 will likely not be released until later this spring. Thirty-seven Senators have already signed a letter in support of increasing WAP funding to no less than $210 million in Fy’14. (See list here).

In addition to this, last week, Senators Reed (D-RI) and Collins (R-ME) offered an amendment to increase funding for the WAP starting in FY’14 to the FY’13 Budget Resolution. To boost Weatherization, the Reed-Collins Budget amendment adds $50 million in budget authority for FY’14 in Function 270 (where WAP funding is housed). It subtracts a corresponding amount in Function 920 in FY 14 to pay for the $50 million add.  The smaller numbers in the attached amendment are adjustments to outlays reflecting the spend out of funds. Also, it adds a provision in the Deficit-Neutral Reserve Fund to Invest in Clean Energy and Preserve the Environment that includes low-income weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit programs.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 12:15 PM
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Senators Sign Letter in Support of WAP

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This month, Senators  Reed (D-RI), Snowe (R-ME) and Bingaman (D-NM) circulated a letter in the Senate asking President Obama to restore WAP funding to no less than $210 million for Fiscal Year (FY’14) as well as continue funding the State Energy Program (SEP) at $50 million. The text of the letter can be seen below.

Over 37 Senators signed onto the letter, the most number of Senate signatories on a letter of this kind in recent memory (list of signatories at the end of this post).

November 19, 2012

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500 
Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to request your support for two key programs within your Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) budget proposal: the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP).  Specifically, we urge you to ensure that your budget submission provides no less than $210 million for WAP and $50 million for SEP.

Since 1976, the Weatherization Assistance Program has helped more than 7 million low-income families save money by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, freeing up finite resources for other essentials like food and medicine.  Indeed, weatherization saves households on average up to $400 per year on their heating and cooling bills.  In addition, this successful program supports American construction, small business, and manufacturing jobs, and a study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that for every $1 invested in the program, weatherization returns $2.51 in benefits to households and society.  Restoring funding for WAP to $210 million will ensure that all states have the resources to help reduce the burden of energy prices on low-income families.

The State Energy Program 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.  Another study, also by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, found that 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.  We respectfully request that this program be funded at $50 million.

We recognize the challenges on the discretionary budget for FY14, and believe in the prioritization of programs that support jobs, assist with the nation's economic recovery, and help meet important goals like improving efficiency and reducing pollution.  In this spirit, we believe that investments in programs like WAP and SEP that reduce costs for individuals, businesses, and society, and create greater economic competitiveness for our nation, should be maintained.

Thank you for your attention to and consideration of these important requests.

Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Mark Begich (D-AK)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
John Rockefeller (D-WV)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Tom Udall (D-NM)
Jim Webb (D-VA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Posted by: Rebecca Stewart at 9:08 AM
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Legislative Update: Sequestration

Friday, September 21, 2012
The White House has released a report detailing the impact of the $109 billion in cuts that will be imposed by the sequester in January if Congress does not meet certain spending reduction targets (i.e. $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next ten years). According to the report, the cuts would result in an 8.2% across the board spending cut in all non-exempt, non-defense discretionary spending. Both the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) fall into this nondefense discretionary spending category and would be cut from their current levels in the Continuing Resolution — $677.3 million and $68 million respectively.

There is a good chance Congress will undo the sequestration because of the concerns about the impact of the cuts on defense. As the sequester is written, defense cuts cannot be taken from personnel or military bases, leaving the cuts to fall disproportionally on the discretionary portion of the defense budget. If the automatic sequestration is undone, Congress must adopt another plan that cuts $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years, so this is far from settled.

Posted by: Brad Penney at 9:53 AM
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President Obama's FY'13 budget request

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Monday, February 13th, the Obama Administration submitted its FY 2013 budget to Congress, asking for $139 million dollars for WAP in FY 13. While the figure is not closer to the $175 million regarded as the minimum necessary to sustain a national program, viewed through the prism of the budget cutting frenzy that is underway in Washington, D.C, the cut could have been deeper. All domestic discretionary programs were subject to across the board cuts in the President's budget.

This is a challenging time for discretionary programs like WAP and we will need your help in our fight to sustain it nationwide. WAP has been a highly successful and effective investment in the American workforce and for low-income families nationwide. It is the largest residential energy conservation program in the nation and performs a vital role in reducing the burden of high energy prices on low-income families. The Recovery Act WAP has been a resounding success and has improved the homes and lives of over 600,000 low-income families through the end of 2011, while supporting over 15,000 jobs. These successes have not been adequately communicated in DC.

Our task this year is a challenging one: we face the likelihood of a long term Continuing Resolution which ties WAP funding to the unacceptably low $68M number contained in the Omnibus bill enacted in December. This will make it very difficult for DOE to keep all state programs funded at sustainable levels. But the value delivered by this program will, we believe, ensure that we succeed in securing the long term survival of the WAP program: no other federal program succeeds as WAP does in training and employing thousands of workers in green-collar jobs that cannot be exported; in saving low-income families money by cutting down on energy bills; and in reducing our dependence on foreign oil. WAP has met the challenge in the past and we will do so in the future. 

Posted by: Brad Penney at 10:26 AM
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FY 2012 WAP Appropriatons

Monday, December 19, 2011
A FY'12 allocation for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) came out last week at $68 million, $65 million for program funds and $3 million for Department of Energy Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA). This is a cut off $106.3 million, or 60%, from  FY'11. This number is not final, but it is part of a final omnibus spending bill that is awaiting final approval by Congress.  To view the Congressional report, click here and scroll down to page 78. Additionally, the bill contains language that allows Secretary Chu to waive the regular funding formula. To view the language, click here and scroll to page 40.
The State Energy Program (SEP) will receive $50 million, the same as FY'11, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will receive $3.5 billion, a cut of $1.2 billion from the FY'11 appropriation of $4.7 billion.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 11:29 AM
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LIHEAP funds release for FY12

Tuesday, November 08, 2011
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made a total of $1.853 billion available in first quarter LIHEAP block grant funds under the FY 2012 continuing resolution (CR).  These funds represent states’ first quarter requests of FY 2012 funds, up to 95% of those requests, based on the FY 2012 President’s budget request level of $1.98 billion.  This means that states requesting 95% or less of their annual allocations in the first quarter will receive their full requests.  States requesting over 95% in the first quarter (96% to 100%) will receive 95% under the CR limitation. The current CR expires on November 18. 
Funding Level of $1.98 billion
HHS determined that, for purposes of this initial release, to use the President’s Budget request of $1.98 billion as the basis for computing the CR funding request.  Since there is uncertainty of the final funding level, using this level allows Congress to complete their funding negotiations without impinging on Congressional funding prerogatives to use another funding level. 
HHS released significantly more LIHEAP funding for this CR period than is made available for most other programs.  Under the current CR, most programs have been allocated 13.39 percent of base funding levels.  Recognizing that many states need to begin their winter heating programs and that a disproportionate share of LIHEAP funds are spent early in the year, we released a significant amount of funding within the framework of the CR while final FY 2012 funding decisions are being negotiated for the program.
Recovered Funds Released
A small amount of no-year (or X-year) appropriated funds totaling $35,933 is also being released as part of the first quarter distribution.  The $35,933 represents recovered LIHEAP funds from past years’ appropriations that do not expire and were recovered due to lack of drawdown.  All states, and one tribe and one territory, will see these additional funds as part of their first quarter award.  (Allocations of the $35,933 that were calculated to be less than $25 were not awarded.)
A table showing the grantee allocations of first quarter funds for states, tribes, and territories under the 95% CR limitation, can be downloaded here.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 9:46 AM
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WAP Briefing on the Hill

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The Northeast-Midwest coalition hosted a briefing in conjunction with the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) Tuesday, October 17th in the Capitol Visitor’s Center in Washington, DC on the importance of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP).

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, their purpose, and 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, OH 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 ARRA 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 these 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.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 10:54 AM
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