WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed legislation from U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to strengthen and reauthorize the heart of the federal government’s energy efficiency strategy—the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 would reauthorize the program through 2024.

In addition to Senators Coons, Collins, Reed, and Shaheen, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy. A companion bill is being led in the House by U.S. Representatives Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).

“The Weatherization Assistance Program has a long history of helping millions of Americans make their homes more energy efficient, and our bill will ensure that this important program can continue,” said Senator Coons. “The cleanest and cheapest energy is the energy we never use, which is why I am proud to support this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to help Americans save energy. It’s good for our wallets, good for our environment, and good for our energy security.”

“Access to affordable home energy during the cold winter months is a matter of health and safety for many low-income households, children, and seniors in Maine and across the country, which is why I support reauthorizing the Weatherization Assistance Program,” said Senator Collins. “Weatherization is a cost-effective way to reduce energy usage and cut low-income homeowners’ energy bills for the long-term.  I am pleased that the committee unanimously passed this bipartisan bill, which would reauthorize this important program, establish a new, innovative pilot program to help make homes ‘weatherization-ready,’ and support cost saving practices.”

“Americans want energy that’s affordable and doesn’t cause climate change. Weatherization funding is just that.  It’s a smart way to lower costs, cut polluting fossil fuels, and strengthen our economy,” said Senator Reed.

“Weatherization projects are among the most effective ways to conserve energy, create jobs and lower costs for New Hampshire families,” said Senator Shaheen. “The Weatherization Assistance Program has helped low-income families, seniors and individuals with disabilities throughout the state make lasting and cost-effective energy efficiency improvements to their homes. This is a proven program and I’m glad to see the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources act on our bipartisan proposal to reauthorize this program. I’ll keep working across the aisle to move this bill through Congress.”

“The Weatherization Assistance Program has helped countless low-income families around the nation reduce their energy costs, and that remains as crucial a mission in Alaska as ever,” Senator Murkowski said. “Many communities in Alaska pay five-to-six times more than the national average rates for electricity and heat, if not more, so the efficiency improvements made possible by this program can be genuinely life-changing. Ensuring its continuation will be good for Alaska, for the country, and for the environment.”

“Finding innovative ways to reduce our energy needs through weatherization and efficiency projects will help homeowners save money on their utilities bills and help us reduce the carbon pollution that is creating the climate crisis,” said Senator Heinrich. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that will build on programs with a successful track record.”

For over 40 years, the WAP has assisted low-income families that lack the resources to make their homes more energy efficient. It supports 8,500 jobs and is responsible for energy efficiency upgrades in millions of homes across the country. For every dollar invested by the WAP, $4.50 is generated in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as local economic growth. 

The Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 would:

  • Reauthorize and extend the WAP through 2024;
  • Facilitate the use of renewable energy technologies in weatherization projects;
  • Allow DOE to take health and safety benefits into account when carrying out the program;
  • Ensure best practices and training among WAP contractors;
  • Create a competitive innovation grant program for non-profits that have a track record of success to access the WAP;
  • Allow homes to be reweatherized once 15 years have elapsed since the last weatherization and clarify that related services, such as education, installation evaluations, or non-Federally funded services, may be provided at any time; and
  • Encourage DOE to provide maximum flexibility when WAP funding is being used to leverage additional private sector funding.