Agriculture & Energy Committee – FY 2012 Appropriations Update: Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and State Energy Program (SEP)
January 19, 2012
FY 2012 Appropriations Process Comes to an End
With passage of H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2012, on December 17, 2011, the U.S. Senate cleared the nine-bill spending package for the President’s signature, ending a prolonged annual appropriations process. The President signed the omnibus spending package into law (P.L. 112-074) on December 23, 2011. The majority of federal agencies had previously been operating under a series of five short-term, stopgap funding measures known as Continuing Resolutions since the start of the Federal Fiscal year on October 1, 2011.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2012 (P.L. 112-074) includes funding for nine appropriations bills: Defense, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education, Legislative Branch, Military-Veterans, and State-Foreign Operations. The bill includes an across-the-board rescission to FY 2012 discretionary funding levels for Labor-HHS-Education (0.189%) and Energy-Water and Interior-Environment (0.16%). The remaining three bills (Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development [HUD]) were enacted in previous legislation, known as the “minibus” (P.L. 112-55).
Weatherization Assistance Program Cut by 60 Percent
Although most programs operated by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) received increases in funding under the FY 2012 omnibus legislation the funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was cut by 60 percent. FY 2012 funding for the program will be reduced to $68 billion from the FY 2011 level of $174.3 million. The omnibus appropriations bill also includes language that gives DOE the ability to waive the weatherization formula for grants to states in FY 2012. The program had previously received a one-time increase of $5 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5).
The WAP enables low-income families to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes, allowing them to reduce their monthly energy bills. The DOE provides funding to states, territories, and tribal governments, which manage the day-to-day details of the program through local community action agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local governments that provide these weatherization services.
State Energy Program Funding Remains Steady
Unlike the WAP, funding for other state federal program administered by the EERE Office remained relatively level. The only slight difference between the FY 2012 and FY 2011 funding levels for the State Energy Program (SEP) can be seen as a result of the across-the-board rescissions applied to programs in each fiscal year. The SEP program was funded at $49.9 million following the 0.2% rescission included in FY 2011. While under the FY 2012 omnibus, the program will receive $49.92 million following the 0.16% rescission for discretionary funding under the Energy-Water and Interior-Environment sections of the omnibus.
The SEP provides financial and technical assistance to states through formula and competitive grants. States use their formula grants to develop state strategies and goals to address their energy priorities. Competitive grant solicitations for the adoption of energy efficiency/renewable energy products and technologies are issued annually based on available funding. States provide a 20 percent match under SEP annual formula allocations.
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