States learn funding to save energy

States learn funding to save energy

March 13th, 2009 in Local Regional News

Tennessee and Georgia soon will get $223 million to make homes more energy efficient.

The White House announced Thursday that Tennessee's Department of Human Services is due $99.1 million and the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority will get $124.8 million for weatherization assistance for low- and moderate-income families. The money comes from the recently approved federal stimulus package.

By the numbers

* $124.8 million - Increase in Georgia's weatherization assistance

* $99.1 million - Increase in Tennessee's weatherization assistance

* $82.5 million - Increase in Georgia's state energy program

* $62.5 million - Increase in Tennessee's state energy program

Source: White House

In Hamilton County, the Chattanooga Department of Human Services expects to get $3.6 million for home weatherization assistance. Over the next 18 months, such assistance could fund insulation, caulking and other energy efficiency measures for more than 500 local homes, officials said.

"In the past, we haven't received a lot of money for our weatherization program, so this will help us deal more with those waiting to get help in making their homes more energy efficient," said Bernadine Turner, director of the Chattanooga Department of Human Services.

The department typically helps about 100 low-income families weatherize their homes each year, she said, so "we're going to need some more contractors to do all this work."

The expanded weatherization program will provide grants up to $6,500 for families making up to twice the federal poverty level - about $44,000 a year for a family of four. Previously, the income and spending limits were lower and the budget for Tennessee was only about $4 million a year.

"We'll be serving a lot more people and hopefully doing so very soon," said Michelle Mowery Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Human Services. "It's exactly what the stimulus plan was designed to do and it should help people reduce their energy burden and utility costs."

In addition to the weatherization assistance, the White House announced Thursday that Tennessee's Department of Economic and Community Development will get another $62.5 million for energy efficiency rebates and energy improvements for public buildings. In Georgia, the stimulus package will provide $82.5 million for similar state energy programs.

Nationwide, the energy programs are projected to create 87,000 jobs "that can't be outsourced," Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.