June Newsletter 6, 2012 Volume 4, Issue 6


 

 

6, 2012 Volume 4, Issue 6

The Weatherization PLUS Newsletter

Economic Opportunity Studies, Inc.  |  www.weatherizationplus.org

Top Story

Are Weatherization Layoffs Fueling the Bleak Jobs Picture?

It is well known that the residential construction industry has been hard hit by the housing slump; fewer than 600,000 jobs have been filled in any month in recent years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3,400 fewer workers in those jobs in March than there were in December 2011. During the same period, Weatherization agencies reported dropping 2,637 “FTE” jobs as compared to the previous quarter. Not all were construction positions like installers, HVAC and inspectors, but by March 31st, the Weatherization workforce had been noticeably diminished.

Over April and May, US residential construction jobs continued to fall by another 2,700. Thirteen states are closing out their ARRA-funded Weatherization by June 30; only some workers have transferred to work on projects funded by regular or leveraged resources.

These grim statistics measure different intervals of time and have different definitions of a job, but clearly they are related. Much more news to come: all but three states will have spent all WAP funds, ARRA and regular appropriations, by the end of their 2012 Program Year. Twenty-seven states have spent all but 2% of their ARRA funds!

Tell us your local story of Weatherization talent either standing idle now or facing joblessness soon; we’ll collect the examples for the public to see the range of impacts.


Will Utility Loans to the Poor Leverage More Weatherization Funding?

Energy Secretary Chu has pointed to unsecured loans to homeowners paid back on monthly utility bills as a source of funds that can cushion the deep cuts forecast for DOE Weatherization. The idea is that small unsecured loans with repayments equal to no more than bill savings the reduction resulting from the retrofit would afford easy access to credit while creating no increase in monthly expenses followed by lower bills would drop when the loan is paid up. That promise, called “bill neutrality” is a key to attracting participants.

New sources of capital are very interested in attracting all residential borrowers and using the utilities as the collection agents. In fact, twenty states’ utilities already have on-bill financing options. Few carry the protections that come with a bank loan, such as transparency, privacy, dispute settlement and collections practices. Most allow disconnection of utilities if the entire bill, including the loan repayment, is not paid in full.

Low-income advocates who favor expanding Weatherization funding sources are split: some feel it is a great advantage to the un-banked or those without credit. Others are very concerned about four issues beyond the consumer protection issues noted above:

  • Low-income consumers cannot afford their current energy burden. How long can they reliably make payments that keep their bills level, not lower?
  • What if the promised savings are not as high as predicted by the audit? Weatherizers know it is impossible to guarantee the predicted savings.
  • What quality assurance is offered in a contractor market that has no work standards as yet?
  • Does the consumer remain personally responsible for the balance if he/she moves?

Economic Opportunity Studies will soon release a more detailed issues paper as a tool for Weatherization advocates as they respond to potential leveraging scenario.


ASHRAE or MY WAY?

No technical issue is more controversial among WAP practitioners at the moment than integrating the provisions of ASHRAE 62.2 into the program. A lively online debate is heating up within the WAP Trainer’s Consortium of experts. It seems that the training session presented during the NWTC conference last year has only heightened the debate. The fundamental question: is there a satisfactory trade-off between health and safety gains and energy losses that justifies adding mechanical ventilation to homes tightened-up to the max? And is the cost-effectiveness hit worth it?

Interested in following the technical discussion through Trainer’s Consortium calls and emails? You are invited to contact Kelly Cutchin: kcutchin@sms-results.com. EOS is also interested in your experience/opinions/comments on this subject, and we will post a more detailed review of the debate and feedback; please email us your views.


Opportunities

New Web Page: Training Recommended by Other Weatherizers

Our website holds more than leveraging resources and tools. In response to requests from respected members of the WAP trainng community, a new page will list training offerings by topic if the trainer provides two recommendations from WAP network organizations. Why this requirement? There is no reliable results measurement system or quality assurance for WAP training; this process is a small step in that direction.

The page is empty right now except for the form that trainers can submit with their info and their fans' ratings and contacts. If you are enthusiastic about a training experience, please direct the provider to the page and help them get a second reviewer. If you are a trainer, please consider using the free listing to reach the 3,000 members of the WAP network who subscribe to this newsletter and visit our pages.


The Newsletter of Economic Opportunity Studies' Weatherization PLUS Leveraging Partnership Project brings timely information about developments that expand the Weatherization Assistance Program to help your organization take advantage of emerging opportunities. Visit the Weatherization PLUS portal for more information.

Why You Are Receiving This Email
Your name is on a list of federal and state Weatherization Program contacts from W.A.P. conference attendance records. Of course, you may unsubscribe (see below). However, we hope you will help us add the names and addresses of all who may be interested. Our promise: 1) We do not share our list, and, 2) The newsletter will be sent only when there is useful material for weatherizers.

Specific questions? Opinions? Subjects we should cover in the future? Email us at:
energy_leveraging_news@opportunitystudies.org

In This Issue:

» WAP Layoff Impact on economy?
» Utility Loans to the Poor?
» ASHRAE Standards: Good for WAP?
» New EOS Page for tested Training Partners

Same Story, Different Places: Weatherization Workers Worked! Till Now…

From: the Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette 5/8/12

"On Friday, a Ross County Community Action crew that once had 15 people working full time on home weatherization projects will be reduced to a skeleton crew. Nine of the crew were laid off two weeks ago, and three more will lose their jobs Friday, leaving a crew of three to handle a waiting list of about 400 homes."

Getting Started on "Leveraging"

Leveraging is using the resources of the program and its organizations, such as people, time, skills, good reputation and funding, to attract more complementary resources.

Are you just starting your leveraging efforts? WeatherizationPlus.org has many resources to get you started:

NEW: Why We Leverage – A podcast with Steve Payne

Leveraging Basics

Utility Leveraged Programs

Housing Finance-Related Tools

Fee-for-Service Weatherization Enterprise

‘Green’ Technology Resources

What leveraging tools should our (free) webinars offer to help you? Write us here.

Green Jobs Connection

BPI, in partnership with  NCAF and NASCSP, has created a Green Jobs Connection site where employers can seek BPI-certified workers to join their teams.

American Job Center

The American Job Center is not fully up and running yet, but the administration has begun aggregating some resources for individuals and employers. This resource may become increasingly helpful as Weatherization workers become displaced.

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Our Project Staff:

Meg Power
Project Manager

Fred Stratton
Project Coordinator

Eli Nesson
Information Manager

Leah Burcat
Weatherization Intern

Veronica Czastkiewicz
Weatherization Intern

Disclaimer: "This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof."

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