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Investment in Energy Efficiency Boosts MN Economy



October 26, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota's Weatherization Assistance Program does more than help low-income families save energy and dollars. According to a recent University of Minnesota study, investment in weatherization creates additional jobs in other industries, and spurs local economic activity. The study looked specifically at American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. Minnesota received an additional $132 million of these federal stimulus dollars above the normal Department of Energy funds for the state's weatherization program.

Karen Moe, energy conservation specialist with Minnesota Community Action Partnership, says the money has been put to good use.

"I think a lot of people right now are asking how effective has ARRA been, and I think this report shows that using ARRA funds to invest in weatherization is an effective way to stimulate the economy, particularly the local economy, for Minnesota."

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding produced 495 weatherization jobs statewide between April 2009 and June 2010, which the study showed resulted in an additional 380 jobs generated in related industries. The study also shows that for every dollar spent on weatherization programming, another dollar of economic activity was generated locally.

Moe says the additional jobs were created as a result of the extra weatherization activity.

"An example of that would be: as the weatherization program increases the number of homes that they weatherize, they also increase the demand for insulation to insulate those homes; therefore the insulation industry feels an indirect impact."

Moe says Minnesota's weatherization programs have been nationally recognized and rewarded.

"As a result of being a high-performing state, the network just received a bonus $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to do additional weatherization measures."

She says the extra funding will allow the state's weatherization program network to test out some newer energy-efficient technology.

"They're going to do some solar thermal, some renewable energy technology, and some high-efficiency hot water systems, so we're very excited."

Moe adds that job creation also boosts the Minnesota economy because wages are spent locally on things like housing, gasoline, clothing and food.

Weatherization Assistance Program information, and a complete list of service providers, are at
bit.ly./bcUtK9.

The full report, and a breakdown of data for each county is at: www.mncaa.org/reportsandresources.html

Sharon Rolenc, Public News Service - MN