Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
How the 2009 Energy Stimulus Bill can help
One of the very good things to come out of the 2009 Legislative Session was the Energy Stimulus Bill. I was fortunate enough to serve on the conference committee that drew up the final language of the bill and wanted to tell you about some of the ways it might benefit you.
Essentially, this bill provides direction for the use of federal stimulus money the state is accepting for energy programs throughout Minnesota. The money will be administered through the Minnesota Office of Energy Security which is a division of the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Minnesota will receive $196.8 million for Weatherization Assistance Programs (WAP), State Energy Programs, and Conservation Block Programs from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 from the federal government.
While much of this money will be spent on making government buildings and public schools more energy efficient, a large component of this plan is focused on individual residential efficiency.
Almost $132 million is allocated to weatherization efforts for housing structures. Of this amount, $1.25 million is designated for participation outreach activities and for training and workforce development. In addition the bill directs the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce to seek authority from the U.S. Department of Energy to use money for weatherization services for abandoned and foreclosed homes and residential properties acquired and rehabilitated through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
The Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, uses energy conservation techniques to reduce the cost of home energy by an estimated percent.
Correcting health and safety hazards and potentially life-threatening conditions is the first consideration in WAP activities.
You are eligible if your household has one or more members that have received TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or SSIC (Supplemental Security Income) within the last 12 months. Households also eligible are those who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level - about $44,000 per year for a family of four - and all homeowners and renters who are income eligible for Energy Assistance Programs (EAP) are eligible for WAP.
Priority is given to households with at least one elderly or disabled member and to customers with the highest heating costs.
Some of the services available are participant education, energy audits to evaluate your home's energy usage, exterior wall and attic insulation, weather stripping, window replacement, and repair and/or replacement of home mechanical systems to ensure efficiency and safety.
Property and homeowners who meet income eligibility requirements, low income rental units, and homeless shelters are targeted and encouraged to seek assistance information through Minnesota Office of Energy Security at (800) 657-3710 (MN only), (651) 296-5175, or
This should spawn jobs as people are going to be needed both as energy auditors and as contractors who are hired to do the work of the weatherization.
Of the total $196.8 million, just over $54 million will be spent on a state energy program.
Funding for programs in this category include such things as:
$15 million used to fund energy-efficient low income residential loans using the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.
$10 million for a school district and local government renewable energy grant program.
$100,000 for a grant to the city of Kennedy for the energy conversion of a former school building to utilize geothermal, wind, and solar energy and house the Go Green Business Center.
$1.5 million for a residential efficiency program for the city of Duluth.
$250,000 for grants to qualifying renewable electric generation facilities.
$7 million for grants to local government units and the St. Paul Port Authority, for use in developing and implementing a program to provide for the design, financing, and installation of energy efficiency improvements in commercial and industrial facilities.
$13 million for local government and school district building renovations, and state government buildings.
$7 million for grants to increase the installation of solar energy projects in Minnesota. Of this amount, at least $3 million must be used for solar projects in the proposed light rail central corridor and nearby low-income neighborhoods. It also provides that contracts, grants, loans, or other assistance awarded for solar photovoltaic installation projects require payment of state prevailing wages and installation by licensed electrical contractors.
$1 million for a grant to Clean Energy Resource Teams to develop and conduct a statewide door-to-door campaign to identify two percent of homeowners to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
$822,000 for grants for projects that will evaluate energy-saving equipment, apply research, and develop energy-efficiency testing that will help Minnesota reach its renewable energy and energy savings goals.
Lastly, energy block grants make up $10.6 million of the total $196.8 million and will be divided between $6.4 million for a competitive grant program for local units of government not otherwise eligible for energy efficiency and conservation block grant funds, and $4.2 million for a school district and local government renewable energy grant program.
The net effect of this money should serve two purposes. To enhance our overall states energy efficiency and to create jobs for the people it will take to get this work done and administer these programs.
I am very pleased at the work my colleagues and I were able to accomplish in outlining a plan to get this stimulus money to work in our state as fast and efficiently as possible and am confident we will begin to see positive effects from it before the end of the year.
If you would like to contact me you can do so by calling (651)-296-4131, by sending an e-mail to
, or by sending mail to my Senate Office at 103 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.