Feb. 24, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Bonnie Prigge or Lucia Flaim, 573-265-2993
Energize Missouri Homes program provides homeowners incentives for energy efficiency improvements
ST. JAMES — Some 77 homeowners in South Central Missouri received some $740,000 in rebates through the Energize Missouri Homes – Homeowner Upgrades and Geothermal (EMH-HUG) program. This program was developed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Energy and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) served as program aggregator for 16 Missouri counties for EMH-HUG. The program offered rebate incentives to homeowners who had qualified home energy audits and made energy efficiency improvements to their homes, including the installation of geothermal ground source heat pumps.
Eight of the 16 EMH-HUG counties in MRPC’s service territory participated in the program for rebate incentives. Osage County had 61 homeowners participating, which accounted for 79 percent of the awarded rebates. The other program counties included Gasconade, Maries, Phelps, Pulaski, Howell, Shannon and Texas.
Homeowners had a total of $1.5 million in expenditures with more than half returned to homeowners in rebates. Additionally, MRPC spent approximately $10,000 of its own administration funds for homeowner rebates. More than 90 percent of rebates were for geothermal systems. Other qualified energy improvements included windows, insulation, lighting, heating and cooling equipment and weather-stripping.
MRPC was contracted for the program in October 2010, and the program launched in November 2010. All funds were reserved by December 2011, and all rebate requests were received by January 2012, with 100 percent of the funds allocated to approved projects.
Luci Flaim, MRPC community development specialist, explained the program required the homeowner to first complete a home energy audit with a certified auditor in compliance with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Department of Energy standards. After the home audit summary was submitted, the homeowner reserved rebate funds and was given up to six months to complete the improvements.
After the project was complete, the homeowner turned in a rebate request and invoices. Often the homeowner’s project cost less than the amount reserved, Flaim noted. If the full amount requested was not used, the funds were sent back into a pool for those on the waiting list.
The state processed the requests and MRPC distributed the rebates. For the Meramec Region, all reservations were made within about a month of the program’s start date, Flaim said.
The maximum amount a homeowner could receive for energy improvements was $17,500. Rebates were based on a percent of total project cost. Typically, homeowners received the maximum $500 rebate for the energy audit and $10,000 rebate for the geothermal system.
MRPC served as the liaison between homeowners and the state and organized auditors and contractors, Flaim said. MRPC staff verified paperwork during the audit process and checked rebate requests for eligibility. Staff made reservations, distributed payments, and prepared monthly update reports on the program.