The Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program, until this year, was a modest $10 million-a-year operation plugging air leaks in about 3,500 Minnesota homes and apartment units. Both of those numbers are about to increase dramatically.
Minnesota is about to get $52.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to weatherize 16,800 homes this year. Once a first two-year phase of the program is done, the state will be eligible for another $65 million in weatherization funding.
Not only will it help families weatherize their homes, it will also help to create jobs for the people who will do the work. The money and demand could create nearly 1,000 jobs. People are already clamoring for weatherization job training. Energy workers are already being hired. Equipment has already been bought. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, which administers the program, has even cranked up its own staffing to make sure the money is used as intended.
Bottom line? Weatherization of thousands of homes is set to start as soon as the funds hit the state.
Homeowners aren't the only ones bracing for improvements. Minnesota government buildings may get up to $54 million to make energy-efficient repairs and upgrades. That's up from $716,000 last year.