Albany, New York – A bill headed for the U.S. Senate floor after the November elections would cancel some local weatherization projects scheduled for next year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has reported legislation that includes a 16 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Energy’s $242 million Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Locally, Weatherization Assistance managed by Albany CAP (Community Action Partnership), is on target to improve energy efficiency in at least 126 homes by March 2007. The cuts would reduce that number for the following year.

“Over the past five years, Albany CAP has helped to lower the annual energy bills of approximately 475 low-income households by 20-30 percent by weather-proofing older homes and improving the efficiency of heating and cooling systems and appliances,” said Kathleen Cloutier, Executive Director of Albany CAP. “Our Weatherization work force is on the front line of America’s struggle for Energy Independence. “If this Weatherization cut is approved, I’m afraid we will be forced to turn away 15-20 working families and retirees of very modest means. The demand for the energy that we could have reduced by improving their homes and equipment will continue to drive up everyone’s costs.” Cloutier said.

A cut in WAP assistance would hurt communities nationwide, according to David Bradley, executive director for the National Community Action Foundation, the Washington advocate for the Community Action Agencies that provide Weatherization Services to low-income homes. “This year, the Weatherization Assistance Program is expected to help nearly 100,000 low-income Americans nationwide cut their heating bills by up to 30 percent,” Bradley said “By slashing program funding, an estimated 20,000 American low-wage workers and retirees on fixed incomes will lose access to these permanent improvements to lower their energy use.”

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a $12 million increase for next program. In doing so, the House rejected President Bush’s proposal to cut the program by 30 percent in 2007. “When the bill comes before the full Senate, we urge Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton to reject these proposed cuts and to provide at least the current funding level for this effective program,” said Cloutier. “Reducing energy use is the cheapest way for society to ease the demand for fuels that is driving up prices for all.”

Albany CAP was established in 1966 and offers a comprehensive program of direct services and advocacy which includes Head Start, Child Care, Weatherization Assistance, Furniture Assistance, Coats for Kids, Family and Community Development, and Home Energy Assistance while also providing information and referrals to a network of supportive community organizations.

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