Shaheen Helps Lead Bipartisan Bill to Empower More American Households with Tools to Cut Energy Costs
**To help Americans struggling with high energy prices, the bipartisan Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act offers enhanced federal aid for home energy upgrades**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) to introduce the Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act. This bipartisan bill seeks to improve public health and lower household energy costs by bolstering the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which covers home weatherization, window replacement, sealing air leaks, ventilation improvements and other key energy-saving measures.
The bill would authorize a Weatherization Readiness Fund to help those in need repair structural issues and prepare homes for weatherization assistance, increasing the number of homes the program is able to serve. In the fiscal year (FY) 2023 appropriations bill that was signed into law, $30 million was appropriated for the Weatherization Readiness Fund. Shaheen’s bill also seeks to raise the amount of funding allowed to be spent on each home to keep up with current labor and material costs, and it would raise the cap on the amount of funding allowed to be spent on renewable energy upgrades in each home. These provisions are essential updates to a program that has helped so many families over the past few decades.
“During difficult economic times and with high energy costs, the Weatherization Assistance Program is crucial to helping Granite State families afford their energy bills without compromising other important household needs like groceries or prescription medication,” said Senator Shaheen. “In addition to expanding access to this program, the bipartisan Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act would make other cost-cutting adjustments, such as improving energy efficiency in homes throughout the country while driving economic development through job creation. This is a commonsense, bipartisan effort that has the opportunity to make a real difference for families, while both spurring economic development in our communities and being more environmentally responsible. This bill would go a long way for a lot of people, and I urge more lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join our bipartisan push.”
Since 1976, the Weatherization Assistance Program has helped more than 7.4 million low-income families reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that these upgrades help each household save $372 in energy bills annually.
In addition to saving families money, energy efficient homes also help cut down on our carbon footprint, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
As a lead negotiator of the bipartisan infrastructure bill – the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – Shaheen helped secure $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Energy (DOE). Previously, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter to Department of Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, urging DOE to prioritize the release of funds allocated through the IIJA for the WAP and State Energy Program. Shaheen has long-championed the WAP program to lower energy costs for low-income families in New Hampshire, as well as the State Energy Program, which assists states with the development of energy efficiency renewable projects. In January, Senator Shaheen reintroduced bipartisan legislation to improve delivery of weatherization assistance and encourage state-driven energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives that reduce energy costs for low-income households, spur private sector energy innovation and improve emergency planning and response. In addition, Shaheen has historically saved and boosted funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which former President Trump’s budget proposals repeatedly sought to eliminate. In the IIJA, Shaheen successfully included key provisions of her energy efficiency bill – the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) – with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). She also included the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act, the Promoting American Energy Jobs Act and the Heat Efficiency through Applied Technology (HEAT) Act.