Nevada to pick up pace with weatherization work

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada has only spent a fraction of its federal stimulus funds intended to make homes are more energy efficient.

Of the $18.6 million available to Nevada for residential weatherization projects, just $607,000 had been spent by the end of November. About 100 homes have been retrofitted with that money.

The slow start has been due, at least partially, to disagreements over how weatherization grants should be distributed.

But Hilary Lopez, chief of federal programs for the Nevada Housing Division, said she's optimistic the state will meet its goal of fixing up about 1,800 homes by the middle of 2010.

"We're very confident that our subgrantees will be able to meet their program goals by June 30," Lopez said. "We anticipate things are going to start moving very quickly now."

If not, future weatherization funds could be in jeopardy.

Albert Weiss, weatherization program manager at HELP of Southern Nevada, one of five nonprofit recipients of state grants, said crews hired by his agency are ready to work. His group has overseen the weatherization of about 25 homes so far, and another 400 projects are in the works.

Households with incomes at or below federal poverty levels are eligible for help in cutting utility bills. Nevada Energy estimates that for every dollar spent on weatherization, residents get $1.39 in savings.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation entered into contracts worth $1.75 million with four nonprofits to supervise the training of 300 new weatherization workers. Training is expected to start next year and wrap up by June.

State law requires that half of all weatherization jobs be filled by those who complete the training programs. But the state also issued waivers allowing companies to start weatherizing homes before training programs were in place.


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