New Jersey Senators Urge Energy Dept To Reconsider Decision To Cut Funding For New Jersey Weatherization Program

New Jersey Senators Urge Energy Dept To Reconsider Decision To Cut Funding For New Jersey Weatherization Program

Washington - U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today wrote a letter to Secretary Steven Chu urging the U.S. Department of Energy to reconsider its decision to provide no funding to New Jersey's weatherization program in 2012. The Energy Department's decision not to fund New Jersey's program was based on reduced funding and the state's failure to spend its current allotment of Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funding.

"We are writing to ask you to reconsider your decision to allocate New Jersey no funding in fiscal year 2012 under the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP),"the Senators wrote. "While we understand your decision is grounded in the facts that funding is scarce and that the State of New Jersey still has not spent nearly half of its WAP Recovery Act funding over the past two and half years, we believe our low-income constituents should not be punished because of the state's shortcomings."

The Senators have been fighting to fund the federal program and make sure the state is administering it properly. On October 4, 2011, in response to reports from the Department of Energy that New Jersey was not on pace to meet its deadlines for completing weatherization projects and at risk of losing millions of dollars in WAP funding, the Senators requested the deadline be extended to help the state meet its weatherization goals. The extension was granted and the state has until the end of the year to meet its deadlines. Despite the deadline extension, since the state has been slow to invest current funding, U.S. DOE has decided not to provide additional funding in 2012.

The Weatherization Assistance Program both creates jobs and permanently reduces energy bills for low income families by making their homes more energy efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provides funding to states which manage the day-to-day program. The Recovery Act had allocated $118.8 million for New Jersey.

A copy of the letter can be foundhereand the text is copied below:

February 13, 2012

Secretary Dr. Steven Chu

U.S. Department of Energy

1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Chu,

We are writing to ask you to reconsider your decision to allocate New Jersey no funding in fiscal year 2012 under the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This critical program helps create jobs and lower energy bills for thousands of low-income families in New Jersey. While we understand your decision is grounded in the facts that funding is scarce and that the State of New Jersey still has not spent nearly half of its WAP Recovery Act funding over the past two and half years, we believe our low-income constituents should not be punished because of the state's shortcomings.

As you know, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act allocated New Jersey $118 million in WAP funding in 2009. In 2010, we became concerned that the state was not using this money quickly enough. Then,in October 2011, because the state had still failed to spend most of its Recovery Act weatherization funding, we asked you to extend the deadline for spending this money beyond March 2012. In December you graciously granted this extension, something for which we remain grateful.

Weatherizing homes creates jobs, lowers energy bills for New Jersey families, and keeps them comfortable in their homes. WAP saves the average household more than $430 per year on their energy bills. It also creates well-paying jobs for local contractors, non-profit energy service providers, and companies that make insulation and other energy-saving technology. Since 2009, the WAP program has created over 2,400 direct jobs in New Jersey.

We understand that you are faced with reduced overall weatherization funding and you have therefore decided to only allocate WAP dollars to states that do not have significant Recovery Act weatherization dollars remaining to spend. While we understand your dilemma, we ask that,for the sake of low income residents and the economic health of our state,you reconsider this decision.

Sincerely,

_________________________

Frank R. Lautenberg

________________________

Robert Menendez

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