This morning, Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu rolled out an $8 billion weatherization program, which they hope will create 87,000 jobs, save energy and help low-income Americans pay their utility bills.
The plan has two components: the $5 billion Weatherization Assistance Program and the $3 billion State Energy Program. The former will provide up to $6,500 in energy efficiency upgrades for households with income up to twice the federal poverty level (or a bit more in Alaska and Hawaii, presumably because of higher energy costs there). The latter will fund rebates for families that undertake upgrades on their own, as well as state and local efficiency programs.
The first installment of the investments — to the tune of $780 million — will be released in the next few days, with the remainder slowly becoming available as states demonstrate the effectiveness of their efforts.
According to Chu, these programs are a central piece of the administration’s broader energy efficiency goals. “Even as we seize the enormous potential of clean energy sources like wind and solar, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act makes a major investment in energy efficiency, which is the most cost effective route to energy independence,” Chu said.
The White House estimates that weatherization will reduce the average low-income household’s heating bills by 32 percent, in addition to other energy savings.