ZANESVILLE, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a roundtable today to discuss projected job creation and economic activity resulting from the $266 million in economic recovery funds Ohio is slated to receive for the weatherization assistance program.
“The weatherization program employs Ohio workers, using Ohio products, to lower energy costs of our state’s homeowners,” Brown said. “This program is not just about reducing energy use—it’s about job creation and economic development in the region.”
Held at the Muskingum Economic Opportunity Action Group, Brown was joined by homeowners who recently received weatherization assistance, newly-employed workers who have been hired to work in the program, and community leaders representing 10 Ohio counties (Muskingum, Guernsey, Noble, Monroe, Washington, Morgan, Coshocton, Holmes, Knox, and Ashland).
The weatherization assistance program helps homeowners save on energy costs through insulation improvements and energy efficiency improvements.
Tom Calhoun, Housing Programs Manager of the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD) discussed how his agency has recently hire more than 100 new workers and expects the weatherization funds passed by the economic recovery legislation to increase his total workforce by another 100 employees.
“We believe that many of these new people will form the nucleus of a ‘green collar’ workforce that will continue to help the country save energy and develop alternate energy sources for years to come,” said Calhoun.
COAD serves homes within 30 southeastern Ohio Appalachian counties.
Since the inception of the Weatherization Assistance Program in 1976, more than 6.2 million homes have been weatherized. Pres. Obama has a set a nationwide goal of weatherizing one million new homes each year. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $5 billion for the weatherization program nationwide. Ohio’s allocation of $266 million for weatherization projects represents a massive increase over the $15 million the state received each year under the Bush administration.
On average, weatherization reduces heating bills by 32 percent and overall energy bills by approximately $350 per year. Weatherization measures also reduce national energy demand by the equivalent of 18 million barrels of oil per year.
The funds were allocated to the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ODOD then distributes the funds to community action agencies, like the 17 agencies that comprise COAD, to carry out the weatherization projects. ODOD also estimates that the weatherization funds in the economic recovery package will improve the energy efficiency of more than 26,000 homes across the state.
The federal funds are also expected to lead to 600 new hires at community action agencies and put another 600 Ohioans to work through contractors.
The weatherization program also results in significant multiplier effects for the local economy. Weatherization crews utilize many locally produced products and services. For example, COAD recently purchased 25 new vans and expects to purchase another 25 more. COAD also does business with vendors selling hardware, lumber, refrigerators, tools, and protective clothing.
Brown today also highlighted training opportunities available to Ohioans seeking to become certified in weatherization techniques. There are five weatherization training centers across Ohio—in Athens, Akron, Dayton, Fremont, and Newark.
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