Monday, May 18, 2009

Weatherization Assistance

From the Commercial Appeal...

Elements-ary: Funds to make more homes weather-proof

Hundreds of Memphians may have less drafty houses and lower energy bills if local officials succeed in bringing more federal money into the area for energy efficiency improvements in private homes.

The Shelby County commission expects to receive $14.6 million for weatherization projects from the $787 billion federal stimulus package Congress passed in February.

The money means the county could improve at least 2,000 homes over two years, said Dottie Jones, director of the county Division of Community Services. The county currently improves more than 300 homes per year through its weatherization assistance program.

The county doesn't have the money in hand, and details aren't final, said Jones, who added that seeking stimulus money for this and other projects is a game of "hurry up and wait."

Meanwhile, Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is also seeking federal money for a similar project.

"There's many houses, especially in low and middle-income neighborhoods, that are in deep need of improvement," said Jerry Collins Jr., president and CEO of MLGW.

The utility has applied for a federal grant through the city of Memphis to boost its current project to improve homes through steps such as fixing holes in walls and installing working thermostats and insulation.

The need is so large that the organization could easily spend whatever amount of money the federal government provides, Collins said.

"It directly benefits the customer. It benefits them not only for the short term, but the long term," he said.

Both the county and MLGW hire out most of the work in their programs to contractors, who also see a benefit.

"It would be a great opportunity for any of our remodelers or builders," said Blair Brown, director of construction and communications for the Memphis Area Home Builders Association.

In addition to pursuing the federal money for home improvements, the county and MLGW are cooperating with one another and the Tennessee Valley Authority on Energy Smart Memphis, an initiative meant to train local people on energy conservation techniques.

-- Daniel Connolly: 529-5296

Get weatherized

To apply for the Shelby County Weatherization Assistance program, visit the county office at 3685 Kirby Parkway or call 362-9514.

Please help those less fortunate by donating one dollar or more each month to the MLGW/MIFA Plus-1 Program, please call 544-MLGW (6549) or go to to download the Plus-1 application.

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