The primary purpose of the Caesar Rodney Institute is to improve Delaware’s economy through state policy reform. We expect this effort to lead to more and better jobs. For some of our citizens, work is not a possibility and they need assistance to get by. Recently we helped create a new program to help more low-income homeowners obtain assistance in making their homes more energy efficient to lower their energy bills.
The Delaware Health and Human Services Department estimates 30,000 families are spending 25% to 50% of their income on energy bills for electricity and heating fuels. Often these folks have larger than average energy bills because they live in older, less efficient homes. Federal and state grants are available to help low income households make their homes more energy efficient. However, there is a catch. Homes needing non-energy related repairs, such as fixing a leaky roof, don’t qualify for the grants. Hundreds of homes are affected and are deferred from receiving Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) grants.
CRI joined with other advocates for the poor to suggest the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) develop a program to pay for repairs so these homes can qualify for WAP. The SEU receives 65% of the auction revenues for permits that allow power plants to emit carbon dioxide. The money is to be spent on energy efficiency projects. The SEU responded with a task force to flesh out the details and CRI participated in interviews with homeowners and their advocates in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Delaware.
On October 5, the SEU announced a partnership with Catholic Charities, Inc. The SEU will provide up to $700,000 for a statewide Pre-Weatherization Assistance Program for homes that have been deferred from receiving assistance from WAP because of structural issues. Catholic Charities, Inc. will run the program which will include inspections, hiring contractors, and post project inspections for quality control.
CRI also encourages leaders in the state to expand legislation to expand electric utility energy efficiency programs and to set aside additional funds for WAP type energy efficiency programs. We attend Delaware Energy Efficiency Advisory Council meetings on a regular basis to ensure progress on the most effective programs. The Center for Energy Competitiveness opposes state policies that increase electric rates and supports policies that lower electric rates. Last year we participated in a successful Public Service Commission effort to increase transparency on electricity bills by showing the cost of individual state policies as line items on Delmarva Power bills.