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Funds available to aid Tennessee homeowners

Funds available to aid Tennessee homeowners
NASHVILLE – The Department of Human Services announced last week that training began Monday to prepare energy auditors and contractors to weatherize thousands of homes across Tennessee, including homes of some families not previously eligible for the program.
Training for local contractors was held today on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide up to $99 million for weatherization projects in Tennessee.
Weatherization is the federal energy efficiency program for low- to moderate-income families.
The types of weatherization projects allowed under the program may include installation of storm windows and insulation, air and duct sealing, caulking, and other related activities to reduce home energy costs and increase home energy efficiency.
“The Recovery Act’s weatherization program will be good for Tennessee on two important levels,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen.
“Not only will the program help low- to moderate-income Tennesseans lower their energy bills, it will also get licensed and trained Tennessee contractors back to work.”
With recent changes in the eligibility requirements for the program, more Tennesseans than ever will be eligible for weatherization assistance.
“The Recovery Act calls for the program to be available to households with an income of up to 200 percent of poverty, and the General Assembly recently enacted changes to Tennessee’s program to mirror this requirement,” explained DHS Commissioner Gina Lodge. “That means, for example, a family of three with an income of up to $36,620 could be eligible for weatherization assistance.”
The change in eligibility from 125 percent of poverty to 200 percent took effect July 1.
Priority will still be given to the elderly, people with disabilities and families with small children.
DHS has reached an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to provide highly technical training sessions for energy auditors and weatherization contractors.
Energy auditors identify the most cost-effective means for reducing heating and cooling usage in the home.
Under the DHS-TVA partnership, the department will provide TVA with the energy efficiency improvement data from the 10-12,000 newly weatherized homes.
The non-personal data will help TVA with future power supply planning and offer insight into the impacts of various energy efficiency measures on a wide variety of homes in the Tennessee Valley.
DHS works with a network of 18 local community agencies that will carry out the weatherization program.
The TVA-led training sessions are being coordinated through these local agencies.
Any interested licensed contractor or energy auditor should contact their local agency for training times and locations or visit the DHS Recovery Web site at http://tn.gov/wap.
The Recovery weatherization program provides opportunities for local community action agencies to partner with TVA to help leverage resources in order to support increased weatherization training needs under an accelerated timeframe.
For more information on DHS and its programs, visit www.tn.gov/humanserv.
WCP 7.07.09

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