Cantwell, Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on Secretary Perry to Stop Unnecessary Delays over Weatherization Assistance Program Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, calling on him to stop unnecessarily delaying energy assistance to states from the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which helps low-income households reduce their energy bills to free up limited financial resources for other essentials, such as food and medicine.

By delaying the funding, the administration will make it more difficult to get started with weatherization work during the prime weather window for construction, effectively forcing low-income families to spend more of their hard-earned dollars on energy bills. The letter comes after the Department of Energy (DOE) missed an important deadline to deliver information concerning state allocations to WAP grantees.

“We have long supported this key energy efficiency program and urge the Department to uphold Congress’ direction to adhere to a timely process for distribution of both funds and guidance,” the senators wrote. “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.”

In their letter, the senators highlighted the $6 million increase in funding for WAP provided by Congress through the annual appropriations bill that was signed into law earlier this fall, which directed the DOE to distribute the funds in a timely manner. The funding bill included provisions directing DOE to distribute grant awards to grantees no later than 60 days after funds are appropriated by Congress, in an effort to prevent undue delays in distributing awards to state and local partners that implement energy initiatives.

For more than 40 years, the WAP has enabled families, seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Since 2010, WAP has provided $33.8 million to Washington state to help thousands of low-income households save money by improving their energy efficiency. Over the past six years, almost 19,000 Washington homes have benefitted from weatherization services, helping to save these families up to 30 percent on their yearly energy costs.

In addition to Cantwell, today’s letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

The full letter can be found HERE.