Information Exchange: Publications

Community Engagement in End-Use Energy Infrastructure

Author: Michael Bobker, MS., CEM

"Once upon a time, during the 1970’s the energy infrastructure in the US was disrupted by two oil embargos imposed by mid-east oil supplier nations. By the 1980’s end-use efficiency programs had been instituted as part of the response, mandated from the federal level. Utilities became the channel for information (energy audits) and low-interest loans. A more direct delivery of efficiency services, weatherization, was created for addressing the disproportionately energy-burdened low-income population. A national program used Department of Energy funding delivered through state government to the network of federally created community action agencies (CAA’s, going back to the 1960’s War on Poverty), to directly install insulation and heating system tune-up measures. In some places, such as NYC, funding was eventually channeled instead through a wider network of community-based, not-for-profit organizations (CBO’s) involved in local-level housing. The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) continues to this day, probably one of the best examples of government-community partnership for service delivery. Besides its role in improving energy efficiency of the housing stock infrastructure, WAP funding is in many cases a major source of overhead for community service agencies, a significant contributor to local economic development, and produces widely distributed, tangible, and noticeable benefits to poor neighborhoods."

Date Created: August 2000; Date Posted: March 2002





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