2012 WAP Mid-Winter Orientation and Conference

By Alice Gaston

The 2012 NASCSP Mid-Winter Conference kicked off Monday, February 27 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC with an introduction by NASCSP Board Chair Steve Payne and NASCSP Executive Director Tim Warfield. The first two days of the conference were comprised of an Orientation for New and Existing WAP State Managers and Staff. An impressive 47 attendees participated, ranging from new managers to experienced weatherization personnel getting a refresher course.

The Orientation, facilitated by the Department of Energy (DOE) staff and other veteran WAP administrators, centered on reviewing the many rules and regulations governing the WAP. Participants received a general overview of the program, examples of how weatherized homes should and should not look, learned how to file a state annual plan, reviewed the federal guidelines regulating the program, and learned how to monitor their sub-grantees. With the reduction in funding for many states this year due to low Congressional Appropriations, one focus of the Orientation was how to comply with state and federal regulations despite lacking regular DOE funds. Closing on Tuesday evening with an ice cream social, the Orientation allowed new practitioners to network with their more seasoned peers as well as meet and speak directly to their federal partners.

The main body of the Mid-Winter conference began on Wednesday, February 29th with inspiring words from the District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray on the status of community services programs in the District. NASCSP’s federal partner from the Department of Energy, AnnaMaria Garcia, followed Mayor Gray with an update on the status of WAP and the challenges ahead. George Sheldon from the Department of Health and Human Services spoke on the changes facing CSBG and the opportunities for advancement of the program in the coming years.  The Weatherization Committee meeting later that afternoon provided an opportunity to update the NASCSP membership on the serious legislative issues facing the WAP in the coming months and years as well as strategies for combating negative press and perceptions of the program. Wednesday closed with a reception for all conference participants.

General sessions started Thursday morning and the WAP track began with two Federal Perspective sessions, giving participants an overview of current DOE initiatives as well as providing an opportunity for candid questions from attendees on coping with low to no DOE funding and Recovery Act grant close-out.  Sessions for the Weatherization track this year centered on the themes of the WX Plus 2015 Initiative: communications, leveraging, the consistent delivery of quality services, and existing and potential new markets. (To learn more about the WX Plus 2015 Initiative, please see the article by Rebecca Stewart on p. 9 in this newsletter).

Highlights from the Weatherization track  sessions included discussion from Steve Payne, Michelle Picklesimer, and Paul Krievins on how to leverage funds to expand your weatherization program; an update from Jenae Bjelland on the exciting new developments in the Weatherization Plus Health Initiative; an overview of the MaineHousing carbon program by Jo-Ann Choate and Joel Eisenberg; a discussion of a successful Public Information Campaign by the state of Minnesota from Marilou Cheple and Karen Moe; examples of quality service delivery from Randy Bennett and Michael Furze; and an update on worker certifications from the DOE’s Jennifer Somers and Josh Olsen. Presentations from the conference can be found on www.nascsp.org under Events.

The Opportunity Council of Bellingham, Washington won the State and Local Energy Report Residential Energy Efficiency Award for their hard work in weatherizing the low-income households of Washington State and their innovative approach of Weatherization Plus Health.  This award was presented during the Awards Luncheon on Thursday, March 1.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2012 Mid-Winter Orientation and Training Conference and made it such a success!  We look forward to seeing you at NASCSP’s 2012 Annual Fall Training Conference and DOE Weatherization Assistance Program State Managers’ Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, September 11 – 14, 2012.