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Weatherization: Helping Ohio Families Save Money and Keep Warm

December 15, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The state’s Home Weatherization Program has been getting a chilly reception recently, amid accusations of inefficiencies. That's not the case, according to those involved in the state's weatherization network, who say Ohio has led the nation in production and quality since the program began.

Rochelle Dennis Twining, executive director of a Community Action Organization serving Delaware, Madison and Union counties in central Ohio, says they've helped many families save money and keep warm.

"Under the stimulus program we were able to more than double the number of people we served. We served 150 households, which is quite significant in such a rural area of Ohio."

In Ohio, stimulus dollars have helped weatherize more than 40,000 homes. Besides creating energy efficiency, Twining says, the program also hired 1,100 workers and provided high-quality training, which will help further their careers.

The program is doing more than just helping families stay warm, Twining says; it's also helping with their monthly budget. She says the goal is to save families 50 percent of their energy bills.

"When they start seeing a gas bill go down 100 bucks a month, and they have that 100 bucks to buy groceries or pay for their medicine or do other things, they are very grateful."

Weatherization workers do a good deal of dangerous work, she says, and are expected to turn out a very high level of quality.

"The criticism is painful because most weatherization crews are very dedicated, and I don't think that the general public realizes the standard of perfection that we are held to in terms of our monitoring and our inspection."

An Ohio Inspector General investigation alleges that the Ohio Department of Development has provided inadequate oversight of the program. While the department says it is reviewing its procedures, federal oversight agencies involved in the program say Ohio is doing a good job.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH