In interviews with Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) implementers and agencies, a key programmatic challenge cited was walkaway rates. Walkaways happen when a home is unable to be weatherized due to a structural or health and safety issue, like a hole in the roof, flooding, hoarding and more. WAPs in the Midwest receive their funding largely from two sources, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the State Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Some states receive additional funding from local utilities, but that is not consistent throughout the region.
This year's Midwest Energy Solutions Conference (MES) incorporated interactive workshops into its agenda for the first time ever, and one of the three workshops focused on Net Zero Energy (NZE) in the Midwest. MEEA staff wanted attendees to consider what Net Zero Energy means for energy efficiency (EE) in the Midwest specifically. (For the purposes of the workshop, “NZE” was referring to any building, development or community that does not use more energy than it produces. See DOE’s NZE definitions).
Several employees from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) had the opportunity to test out the Association for Energy Affordability Inc. (AEA) building efficiency training facility on South Central Ave., near Midway International Airport.
On April 29, MEEA held a Legislative Breakfast event at Café Moxo in downtown Springfield, IL. The breakfast, attended by around 40 participants, including several state legislators, showcased businesses and organizations implementing energy efficiency programs, highlighting in particular the economic benefit derived directly from such programs.
Jacob Preciado, the Construction Manager at the Archdiocese of Chicago, explained that in some of their churches the boilers are over 100 years old. Because the parishes all have to self-finance these improvements with a limited budget, utility rebates were vital for making upgrades possible.