Since the beginning of 2009, $8 million in economic stimulus money has been set side by the U.S. Department of Energy in part for green energy contractors. Some of the funds assist low-income households by enabling them to afford the contractors' green energy jobs, and some offer grants directly to small-business contractors who provide weatherization services for these families.
Because states distribute the federal stimulus funding, small-business home improvement contractors interested in obtaining grant funding should contact their own state officials. Details vary from state-to-state, but take Wyoming, for example. Its goals include boosting economic and work force development by expanding the state's number of certified contractors by the year 2013. Wyoming offers building analyst training courses for contracting companies and workforce development workshops with part of the stimulus grant funding.
Grants, typically available on a competitive basis, encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaic systems, nuclear, wind or geothermal, for instance. According to Ambassador Energy, a solar energy solutions company, grants primarily go to the commercial, education, government, industrial and utility sectors. They help pay the cost of systems or equipment approved within the program. Other aspects of the grants focus on research and development funding or support small-business contractor start-ups or expansions.
Projected Growth in the Weatherization Industry
The weatherization industry is expected to grow by 2,000 percent over the next 10 years, according the Lesko, due to the increase in funds for this program. In 2009, 3,000 home inspectors were needed. In total, 125,000 jobs were needed to staff the small-business weatherization contractors working within this program. For every $1 million invested in the program, 73 green jobs are created.
Increased Household Income Limits
The existence of the new funding for households creates a viable boost to the industry by allowing families who did not qualify for grants in the past to qualify under the new guidelines. Without expanding the income limits, contractors have a very narrow market. From 2008 to 2009, the amount of family income allowed for participation in the weatherization program increased from $33,000 to $44,000. Homeowners get the work done on their home and have lower utility bills after completion of the project. Contractors have customers, thanks to these income limit adjustments.
Solar Power Wind Energy; Government Grants for Alternative Energy; April 2011
Garfield Clean Energy; Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative Solar Installations Nearing...
M. Lesko; Green Grants; Matthew Lesko
Ambassador Energy; Renewable Regulations: Grant Programs
Wyoming Home Performance: The Wyoming Home Energy Makeover And Local Government Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy and Installation Project