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State slow to spend home weatherization stimulus funds

It was almost a year ago when the governor and the U.S. energy secretary appeared in Milwaukee to announce a big federal stimulus grant to weatherize low-income homes.

Since then, Wisconsin has only completed 3.7 percent of the 20,000 homes it was planning to improve.

The Energy Department's inspector general says Wisconsin has the 33rd-lowest completion in the nation.

As of Feb. 16, the state had completed 772 of the homes it was planning to weatherize with the grant. Five other states, plus Washington, D.C., had not weatherized a single unit yet.

Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the nation has not realized the jobs and other economic benefits from the $5 billion it pumped into the weatherization effort over a three-year period.

He said many state programs were held up by budget deficits, hiring freezes and employee furloughs.