The state Department of Commerce is seeking approval from the federal government to spend more of the federal funds it will receive in October to weatherize low-income family homes – and spend slightly less on paying their energy bills.
Without the requested federal waiver, the state would spend 85 percent of the $75.1 million it expects to receive in the next federal budget on paying energy bills for thousands of low-income families and 15 percent on making low-income homes more energy-efficient.
The request would allow 25 percent of the funds to be spent on home-weatherization projects, reaching an extra 1,100 households.
“The goal of the state’s request is to reduce the energy and heating bills of as many low-income families as possible – and not for one season, but for the long term,” said Julie Palakovich, Commerce’s weatherization program manager.
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Commerce expects to submit the request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Aug. 1 for the federal budget year that begins Oct. 1.
The request comes on the heels of a home-weatherization program that ramped up with federal economic-recovery funds in 2009, making more than 10,200 homes more energy-efficient in the past two years and saving some $600 a year per household, according to state estimates.
Studies suggest affordable energy should account for no more than 6 percent of a household’s income. But about 46 percent of the state’s more than 251,000 low-income households spend 10 percent or more of their income on energy costs, according to the state’s waiver request.
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The state Department of Commerce will conduct a public hearing beginning at 11 a.m. July 14 about its federal waiver request to spend more money on low-income home-weatherization projects that otherwise would be used to pay energy bills.
The hearing will be in Room 207, Building 5 of the Town Square Complex, 1011 Plum St. S.E., Olympia.
Comments on the proposal can be emailed no latter than July 14 to firstname.lastname@example.org.