March 13, 2009 — The White House announced changes in the federal stimulus package Thursday which increased funding the territory will receive for energy programs.
Updated figures have the Virgin Islands total monies for weatherization at just over $1.4 million and $20.6 million is slated for the State Energy Program," said Gov. John deJongh Jr. in a Government House Statement. "These funding levels are on top of the monies the Energy Office will receive via formula allocation," he said. The monies are contained in two of three formula grants under Title IV of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The $20.6 million for the State Energy Program will be used to promote the conservation of energy and to reduce the rate of growth of energy demand through the development of a comprehensive territorial energy conservation plan. The Weatherization Assistance Program monies will be used to assist low-income families in reducing their energy bills by weatherizing their homes.
These monies can be used to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes by installing solar water heaters and energy-efficient appliances, deJongh said.
The stimulus bill increases funding for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants from a $2 billion baseline to $3.2 billion in 2009. The Virgin Islands' share is estimated to be $9.8 million and has not yet been released, according to Government House. These funds will be used to reduce fossil fuel emissions, decrease energy consumption, improve energy efficiency in the transportation, building and other energy consuming sectors as well as to spur economic growth and create jobs and retain employment.
While there was a slight increase in the amount of State Energy Program funds received, the actual Weatherization Assistance Program funds received is actually lower than initially anticipated, deJongh said.
Earlier this week, the White House made public the funding levels the Territory can anticipate for Education under the stimulus legislation. This funding is on top of the usual, regular federal education allocations and represents an opportunity to improve teaching and learning programs as well as to increase services to children with disabilities and well as plan improvements to school campus and improve and or install technology in public school campuses, according to the administration.
The lions share of the funding will total $9.4 million in Title I monies, $1.1 million in Education Technology State grants and almost $353,000 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The Virgin Islands are expected to receive Pell Grants totaling $1.4 million, $17,600 for a federal work study, monies for Vocational Rehabilitation in the amount of $350,000 and about $23,000 for Independent Living Centers, in addition to the various multimillion dollar allocations announced previously by Government House.
On Thursday, Office of Economic Opportunity Director Julito Francis and Nathan Simmonds, senior policy advisor to the governor, met with Vice President Joe Biden and members of the Obama administration. The goal of the meeting was to ensure that the implementation of stimulus funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is effective, transparent and efficient, according to Government House. For more information on the stimulus package and the Virgin Islands, go to the governor's website.
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