Almost two years ago I posted a blog about the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA); ARRA, or the “Stimulus Bill”, has gotten pilloried in the media as a colossal failure and waste of taxpayer dollars. But if you would take the time to do a little research, you would see that most of the coverage has been far from the truth.

Because of ARRA’s support for DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, well over 1 million homes were weatherized across the country and are now saving an average of $400 a year on energy costs. Fifteen thousand jobs were created in the weatherization field alone and the economy was stimulated—the whole point of the “Stimulus Bill” in the first place. Auditors estimated that the waste for the more than $800-billion Stimulus was only 0.001% of the total.

Tragically, there hasn’t been enough support to keep those 15-thousand workers in jobs. Blame that on the President, on the Congress, Wall Street, or on the economy as a whole and you would be hitting the mark—all of the above.

But I drive to work through the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, and drive home through the original two, and my commute home is not nearly the headache it used to be, thanks in large part to ARRA. Look around wherever you live and do a little research and you will come up with similar stories.

More good news keeps trickling in. This from Neal De Snoo, Energy Program Officer in the Office of Energy and Sustainable Development of the city of Berkeley:

The City of Berkeley, California completed an evaluation of a Federal Stimulus-funded residential energy upgrade program. The analysis of actual energy consumption from participating homes before and after improvements shows that major energy improvement projects provide benefits to the community and homeowners that exceed the costs. The study is based on a set of 99 of the 142 single-family homes that participated in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and PG&E ratepayer-funded Berkeley Money for Energy Efficiency (ME2) program between 2010 and 2012.

Here are some highlights:

  • The 99 homes analyzed realized on average an 18% reduction in their energy use.
  • At a combined cost between households (app. $450,000) and the federal government (app. $240,000) of approximately $690,000, the city gained about $350,000 in home improvements, $250,000 in wages, and $467,000 in utility bill reduction.

The report is available here.

 

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Comment by Ed Minch on March 24, 2014 at 8:56am

IThe ARRA funds went to low-income houses and they did not have contribute anything (at least in the 4 states we work in), but the PG&E program was a rebate program.  What was the breakdown among the 142 houses for fully funded and rebated work?  

If the savings was 18%, what was the average dollar amount of the savings?

The numbers you gave above show an average payback of less than 1-1/2 years - what sort of measures were installed in the mild climate of Berkely that yielded these great results?  I need to install some of thjs stuff.

And if the total expenditure was $690,000 and the value of improvements was $350,000, where did the other $340,000 go?

Sorry, the link does not work for me.

Thanks, Ed Minch

Comment by Richard Beyer on March 24, 2014 at 8:32am

Jobs are always the favorable argument for any industry movement. In my opinion, industry is failing itself by ignoring training and the safety implications for the products currently being installed into these homes. To much emphasis is placed on the rater rather than training the men doing the work. Had industry prepared a little better for the surge in this predicted job growth there would not be so many industry members fighting over who's product is best. There would be enough work for everyone. Training alone could have created hundreds of thousands of jobs over the 15000 mentioned in this article. Connecticut alone reported it had invested a million dollars into training auditors and not one dollar was invested into the training of installers. Industry must first blame it's failure's from within before it can blame anyone else for it's failure to maintain financing from our government. The current insulation scandal unfolding in NZ is a good example of the insulation industry's failure to pay attention to detail.

Comment by Bijou Lulla on March 24, 2014 at 8:11am

Nice insights Jim; your link to the report though needs to be corrected, will appreciate your doing so. 

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