Energy Department announces $40M to boost electricity, weatherization in low-income communities
The Biden administration on Friday announced more than $40 million in funds toward weatherization and electrification of low-income areas.
“This investment addresses a critical gap in federal assistance, and it’s just the latest action this administration is taking the lower energy costs for working families,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on a call with reporters Friday.
The bipartisan infrastructure law, which President Biden signed in November 2021, included $3.5 billion toward the department’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which Granholm described as an increase of more than 10 times what the program typically spends over the course of a year.
The additional funds, she added, will allow some 450,000 households to afford upgrades to their homes that result in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in collective savings.
The funding includes $36.5 million to go towards community organizations through the department’s Enhancement and Innovation Program and another $5.1 million toward state weatherization agencies.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) said on the call that the grants will “turbocharge” recipients’ ability to “meet the future.” Kaptur’s district includes Toledo, whose Neighborhood Housing Services organization will receive $1.9 million of the $36.5 million award.
“We know that 40 percent of America’s energy goals must be met by conservation in the built environment, and housing is a major focus of meeting this goal,” Kaptur said.
The Biden administration has pledged to ensure 40 percent of environmental benefits go to underprivileged communities. Last year, the White House announced a pilot program for the so-called Justice40 initiative, which included weatherization and resilience programs.
The impact of extreme weather on low-income and disadvantaged communities has increasingly come to the forefront as the western U.S. faces an unprecedented water crisis, as well as continued concerns that vulnerabilities in Texas’s self-contained power grid were not properly addressed after extreme winter weather battered the state in early 2021.