OCAP gets part of $300K grant

Published 11:59 pm Friday, February 6, 2009

Covington County is one of 12 counties set to receive a portion of a more than $300,000 grant designed to help many low-income Alabamians to reduce their home energy costs.

Gov. Bob Riley announced a statewide award of $3.02 million in grant funds through the Weatherization Assistance Program Friday.

The award is more than three times the total available in 2008.

Organized Community Action Program Inc. will receive a $308,640 grant to help qualified residents make home improvements that increase energy efficiency. The agency serves residents in Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lowndes and Pike counties. The agency will receive applications and administer the program locally.

“High home energy bills can break budgets already stretched thin by a job loss or other circumstances,” Riley said. “I hope this weatherization assistance will help make energy costs more manageable for the most vulnerable Alabamians, especially the elderly and disabled.”

Liz Seay, director of the Covington County OCAP, said eligible applicants will have their houses tested to determine what weatherization measures are needed to maximize energy efficiency. Improvements typically include adding insulation, reducing air leaks by improving windows, doors and vents, and servicing heating and cooling systems. Health and safety diagnostic services also are provided.

“This is very exciting — this grant award, especially after such cold weather that we’ve had over the last few days,” Seay said. “This program is designed to make weatherization modifications that best benefit qualifying homeowners. It could mean something as simple as installing weather stripping around windows and doors to completely replacing old windows and doors.

“And the overall benefit of this program is further echoed every month, once those repairs are complete, when homeowners see the reduction in their monthly utility bill.”

The organization will accept applications and determine those low-income residents who are eligible for assistance based on guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the overall grant from additional federal funds made available to Alabama in October. ADECA administered grants totaling $788,950 for weatherization assistance in 2008.

Covington County residents should call 334-428-2660 for more information on the program.