Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Call to Secretary Perry to Stop Unnecessary Delays Over Weatherization Program Funding

December 06, 2018

(Washington, DC)— Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a bipartisan letter with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry regarding delayed guidance and documentation for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The letter comes after the Department of Energy (DOE) missed an important deadline to deliver information concerning state allocations to WAP grantees. Persistent delays in this guidance could impact critical funding for states whose WAP programs begin in the early spring. The Weatherization Assistance Program helps lower energy costs for low-income families, seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities by making energy efficiency modifications to their homes. 

The Senators wrote, “We appreciate the commitment you made on April 11, 2018, before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development to fund WAP consistent with Congressional intent and urge you to release these final guidance documents without delay.” 

In their letter, the Senators highlighted that Congress provided a $6 million increase in funding for WAP through the annual appropriations bill that was signed into law earlier this fall and directed the Department of Energy to distribute the funds in a timely manner. The funding bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee also includes provisions from the Investing in State Energy Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Shaheen, Coons, Collins and Reed, directing the Department of Energy to distribute grant awards to grantees no later than 60 days after funds are appropriated by Congress in order to prevent undue delays in distributing awards to state and local partners that implement energy initiatives. 

The Senators concluded their letter, “The first step in the WAP funding process is the Department’s release of grant guidance and management information to assist grantees in developing state plans for the upcoming program year. In the enclosed memorandum dated September 25, 2018, DOE announced that this guidance was to be released on November 30, 2018. As of the date of this letter, DOE has failed to release these guidance documents or state allocations for FY 2019. We urge DOE to release the FY 2019 WAP guidance and state allocations no later than December 7, 2018, in order to avoid unnecessary delays in services to low-income families and seniors who rely on the energy savings from this program.” 

David Terry, Executive Director of the National Association of State Energy Officials, representing the 56 state and territory governor-designated energy directors, stated, “We greatly appreciate the bipartisan support of the Senators and the leadership of Senator Shaheen.  Moving Weatherization Assistance Program funding in a timely manner, as Congress intended, to the states to assist low-income Americans, the elderly, veterans and other vulnerable Americans in lowering their home heating and cooling energy costs, is critical to meeting basic human needs in every state.” 

Jenae Bjelland, Executive Director of the National Association of State Community Services programs, representing the State WAP Directors in all 50 States, DC, and 5 US territories, said, “The WAP has weatherized over 7.4 million homes since its inception in 1976, lowering energy bills and allowing families to buy other essentials like food, education, and healthcare. Timely release of guidance and funding ensures that critical services reach the energy burdened, low-income families in need across our country. We are thankful for Senator Shaheen’s leadership and Congress’ support on this important issue.”

Senator Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for the Weatherization Assistance Program. For more than 40 years, the Department of Energy's assistance programs, WAP and the State Energy Program (SEP), have provided technical and financial assistance to states, tribal governments and U.S. territories to encourage the adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency practices and technologies. WAP enables families, seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, freeing up limited resources for other essentials like food and medicine. 

Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to include nearly $2.4 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), including $254 million for WAP, in funding legislation signed into law in September.

The Senators’ letter can be read in full here.