El Paso Council approves Low-Income Weatherization Program
El Paso’s City Council voted December 15th, 2011, to accept a $4 million grant to help low-income families weatherize their homes, thereby reducing their energy use and lowering their utility bills.
The money is from the federal government’s stimulus program and is being funneled through the state of Texas under contract with the city of El Paso. The program will help about 600 low-income households replace insulation, windows, and even energy-wasting appliances, according to Bill Lilly, the city’s Director of Community and Human Development.
The program, which will get underway next month, will not give money directly to households. Instead, low-income families may apply for the funding. The city will determine whether they meet income guidelines and then will send an inspector to determine what needs to be done. A contractor will then be hired to do the work.
Each home can get a maximum of $6,500 worth of improvements. In order to qualify, income for a family of four may not exceed $44,100 per year. “It’s an excellent program,” said Lilly. “It will assist in reducing energy consumption, and it will put more money in low-income people’s pockets indirectly by lowering their energy bills. It will also reduce the country’s overall consumption of energy.”
The grant is part of a national weatherization program. Stimulus money was given to the states, which in turn are giving the money to cities and nonprofit organizations to use. No local matching funds are required. El Paso Regional Group activist Bill Addington, also Wind and Solar Energy Chair of the Rio Grande Chapter reiterated that helping low-income people improve the energy efficiency of their homes is a worthwhile goal. “Energy conservation isn’t as sexy as solar or wind power,” he said, “but you get more bang for your buck with energy conservation than generating more power regardless of the source.”
adapted from an El Paso Times article by David Burge