State reaches stimulus weatherization goalby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — More than 17,000 low-income Minnesota homes have been weatherized using stimulus funds Congress approved in 2009, the state Department of Commerce said Wednesday.
Commerce officials said the state's goal was to weatherize 16,858 homes by the end of March 2012. The state has surpassed that number and still has $16 million more to spend before the deadline, Commerce Department spokeswoman Nicole Garrison-Sprenger said.
About 2,000 to 2,500 additional homes will be weatherized by then, she said.
Fixes such as improved insulation, air sealing and new furnaces or boilers are saving households an average of about $400 annually on energy costs, officials said.
Garrison-Sprenger said necessity and a well-coordinated program allowed Minnesota to reach its goal faster than many states.
"If you think of the housing stock in the state of Minnesota, you know we have some older homes, so definitely there's a need," she said. "But also one of the things that our office did is we ramped up our staff and worked with the various service providers to make sure we were getting the money out there quickly."
The weatherization program has been around since the 1970s, but Garrison-Sprenger said the one-time surge allowed the state to serve significantly more people.
The state program normally weatherizes about 3,000 low-income homes each year, she said.