US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu announced that the DOE is providing more than $453 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka the economic stimulus bill) funding to expand weatherization assistance programs in 15 states. This, along with additional funds to be disbursed after the states meet certain Recovery Act milestones, will help these states achieve their goal of weatherizing more than 165,000 homes, lowering energy costs for low-income families that need it, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating green jobs across the country. Secretary Chu made the announcement with Gov. Ted Strickland, while helping to weatherize a local resident’s home in Columbus, Ohio.

The following states received 40 percent of their total weatherization funding authorized under the economic stimulus bill: California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia. The District of Columbia also received its total weatherization funding.

Under the Recovery Act, states may spend up to 20 percent of funds to hire and train workers. Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi and Oregon previously received this 40 percent funding allocation.

“These awards demonstrate the Obama administration’s strong commitment to moving quickly as part of the country’s economic recovery—creating jobs and doing important work for the American people—while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly,” Chu said. “Today’s investments will save money for hard-working families, reduce pollution, strengthen local economies and help move America toward a clean-energy future.”

The DOE’s weatherization assistance program will be available to families that make up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level—or about $44,000 a year for a family of four. Weatherization projects allow low-income families to save money by making their homes more energy efficient, which results in average savings of 32 percent for heating bills and savings of hundreds of dollars per year on overall energy bills. States will spend approximately $6,500 to weatherize each home.

The funding allocations for the weatherization assistance program follow a stage-gate process: on March 12, funding allocations by state were announced and the initial 10 percent of total funding was available to states and territories to support planning and ramp up activities. Comprehensive state applications were due on May 12; following DOE reviews for each state, 40 percent allocations are awarded. The remaining 50 percent of funds will be released when states meet reporting, oversight and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act.

This installment adds to the initial 10 percent of the states’ funding allocations that were awarded previously for training and ramp-up activities. Following a review of their comprehensive state plans, these 15 states have now received 50 percent of their Recovery Act weatherization assistance program funding.

The Recovery Act includes a strong commitment to oversight and accountability, while emphasizing the necessity of rapidly awarding funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies.