MEA Provides Energy Upgrades for Residents of Prince George’s County

United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) is the official Community Action Agency for Prince George’s County.

United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) is the official Community Action Agency for Prince George’s County.

United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) is the official Community Action Agency for Prince George’s County. The agency is dedicated to providing assistance for individuals and families whose quality of life has been negatively impacted by poverty, unemployment, homelessness, crime, and inadequate public health services. In the past three years, UCAP has been awarded $906,000 in EmPOWERing Clean Communities Grant funding, which has been used to provide approximately 125 low-to-moderate income homes in Prince George’s County with energy audits, weatherization, and energy upgrades. Working together MEA and UCAP were able to meet and complement each other’s goals by significantly reducing energy bills for these residents.

The EmPOWERing Clean Communities Grant is one of the few sources of help available for moderate income homeowners. UCAP, in partnership with Taurus Renovation and Construction, focused on residents that met the definition of being moderate income homeowners. (A moderate income homeowner is defined as having an income that is 85 percent or less of the median income limit established for the County.) A portion of the grant was also used to train students to perform the energy audits, weatherization, and upgrades, and provided them with the opportunity to become Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified. BPI is a national standards development and credentialing organization for residential energy efficiency retrofit work.

Nakisha Matthews, a single mother of two, received audits and upgrades through the program. She said, “I have seen a significant decrease in my utility bills since having my home weatherized. I was told that 75 percent of my energy was leaving my home after having the energy audit done. I was shocked. UCAP and its team took time to reduce the energy that was leaving my home and gave me tips on what I could do to reduce my energy consumption even more.”

Tiawana Miller also received audits and upgrades. “I have been on Social Security Disability for the past 10 years and have had brain surgery nine times,” she said. “I am so humble and appreciative for all of the work that the program has done for me. I also appreciate all of the helpful tips and recommendations provided to me by the auditors.”

The 125 residents who received or will receive the energy audits and upgrades will each save an average of approximately $50 a month on their energy bills. The energy savings from the completed 2010 and 2011 audits equates to keeping 33 cars off the road for an entire year. The benefits associated with the training and increased comfort in the homes is not figured into these equations, but is also noteworthy.

Gwendolyn Ferguson, President and CEO of UCAP, said, “We were happy to participate in a program that helped residents of Prince George’s County in the area of energy conservation and weatherization. The project was exciting, and helped to improve the quality of homes for our many customers.”

This grant is part of the EmPOWER Maryland initiative, and is funded through the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF). SEIF funds come from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and the SEIF fund statute requires that at least 46 percent be used for energy efficiency and conservation programs, projects, or activities and demand response programs of which half shall be targeted to low-to-moderate income Marylanders. The grant funds were divided among all Maryland counties, with approximately $348,418 awarded to Prince Georges County in FY 2012 and UCAP receiving $200,000 of this share in FY 2012.

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