Obama administration officials say the home weatherization program funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is making gains. Vice-President Joe Biden went to Manchester, N.H., on Aug. 26 to announce the 200,000th home to get energy-efficiency upgrades under the program.
"We've hit the accelerator on the weatherization program," Biden said in a statement. He added that the goal is to weatherize 600,000 homes using the economic-stimulus act funding.
Biden said more than 80,000 homes are undergoing energy-efficiency improvements this summer, compared with 3,000 in summer 2009.
According to the Dept. of Energy, as of Aug. 20 it had awarded $4.8 billion, or about 97% of its $4.975 billion in stimulus-act weatherization funds. Of the awarded amount, $2.6 billion has been expended in the form of actual outlays.
DOE announced Aug. 19 it awarded $90 million in ARRA aid to more than 100 local agencies and community organizations to help finance their weatherization programs.
The work includes installing solar panels, small wind turbines, insulation, and high-efficiency appliances and boilers.
DOE also said it would provide $30 million in non-ARRA weatherization money to 16 organizations for demonstration projects for low-income single-family and multifamily homes.
The stimulus' weatherization program had a slow start, with work completed on only 30,376 homes from February through December 2009.
Senate Republican spokespersons, who criticized Biden's announcement, pointed to a February 2010 Government Accountability Office report, which said, "States used only a small percentage of their available [ARRA weatherization] funds in 2009, mostly because state and local agencies needed time to develop the infrastructures required for managing the significant increase in weatherization funding and for ensuring compliance with recovery act requirements, including Davis-Bacon requirements."
GAO noted that ARRA required that Davis-Bacon Act's prevailing-wage standards be applied to the 34-year-old DOE weatherization program for the first time.
The pace of ARRA-funded weatherization has picked up this year. DOE reports that another 103,791 homes were weatherized under the ARRA program from January through May 2010.
Biden's announcement means that work on an additional 65,000-plus residences has been finished since May.