John Howat, with the National Consumer Law Center
, spoke today at the National Community Action Foundation Energy Programs Leveraging Con...
on starting new state leveraging initiatives. But, as he asked the attendees, "what the heck is 'leveraging'?"
According to John, leveraging means attaining non-federal funding and other resources (including federal technical and training assistance and leveraging grants) to supplement federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funds. Other examples include utility payment assistance and low-income energy efficiency programs, state-mandated energy efficiency programs, foundation funds, and Health and Human Services LIHEAP Assurance grants.
Why is it important to leverage additional funds when WAP is flush with ARRA stimulus funds? Because ARRA funding will likely be running out in March 2012, and LIHEAP and WAP are not enough to secure long-term energy security for eligible low-income clients. 720,000 homes are projected to be weatherized under ARRA and non-ARRA programs by 2012, but 39 million low-income homes are eligible!
John recommended that we develop low-income home energy security plans for our states, documenting household income, poverty, demographics, utility shut-offs and arrears, and home energy burden analyses.
Economic benefits are not distributed equally in our society, and low-income families and communities deserve their fair-share of new investments in green energy. As co-presenter, Lisa Kesecker (W. Va. Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity) paraphrased Grateful Dead rock star, Jerry Garcia: "Somebody's got to do something [about poverty and environmental
pollution] and it's a damned shame that it has to be us."
How has your agency advocated for energy efficiency in low-income communities?