Weatherization takes a while in Texas

Mike Riggs Contributor
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When Congress allocated $5 billion of the $787 billion stimulus for weatherization of low-income homes — once known as “insulation”— Texas made a big promise in order to get its fair share of the pie. Very big: The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which prior to the Obama administration had an annual weatherization budget of $13 million, committed to spending $327 million in stimulus funds to weatherize 56,000 homes by 2012.

But according to CNN (which put the pre-stimulus budget at $6 million) the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had only managed to weatherize 47 homes with its 50-fold budget as of the Sept. 30, 2009, stimulus reporting deadline. According to CNN, the stipulations surrounding stimulus spending are so complex that Texas “had to set up training academies to teach people how to manage the federal money,” which drastically slowed the weatherization process.
Texans who are waiting on the Department of Housing and Community Affairs to insulate their homes will likely have to wait a while longer: On “an average day,” the weatherization waiting list contains requests from 14,000 Texas households; at the current rate of seven houses weatherized per month, and assuming the number of requests remains static, the last of them can expect to start saving money on their energy bills around 2176.
Residents shouldn’t bother complaining: As of 3 p.m. est on Jan. 26, the voice mailbox for the department’s Energy Assistance Section was full.