Program works to help low- to moderate-income homeowners
by Timothy Sandoval
Landover Hills resident Dottie Fratturelli, 66, estimates she and her fiance save about $50 a month on energy bills thanks to more than $3,100 in free energy upgrades she received from a state grant program last year.
Fratturelli received an Energy Star refrigerator, insulation in her attic and fluorescent light bulbs from the program.
“I was very appreciative because we never could have done it,” said Fratturelli, one of 36 low- to moderate-income homeowners who received upgrades last year. “There was no way.”
This year, officials from a collaboration of 14 Prince George’s County municipalities hope even more low- to moderate-income homeowners will receive the same types of weatherization and energy upgrades to help save on energy bills.
That comes thanks to a $400,000 EmPOWERing Clean Energy Communities grant from the Maryland Energy Administration, said Sgt. Jim Flynn of the Bladensburg Police Department, who also is the town’s grant manager and program overseer for the participating municipalities.
Besides Bladensburg, other participating municipalities are: Mount Rainier, Seat Pleasant, Edmonston, Forest Heights, North Brentwood, Cottage City, Colmar Manor, University Park, Morningside, Brentwood, Glenarden, Landover Hills and Capital Heights.
Last year, the collaboration received $215,000 in grant funding. Flynn said he applied for more due to program interest.
To qualify for free upgrades, residents’ household income has to be no more than 59 percent of the median income level of all Prince George’s residents, which depends on household size, Flynn said. For instance, a household of four would need to make $64,499 or less to get subsidies for energy upgrades, he said.
Residents who have an income level between 60 percent and 85 percent of the median income level for county residents also qualify, but will have to pay for 10 percent of the work, Flynn said.
The energy upgrades are capped at $8,000 for all income levels, he said.
Bladensburg again will spearhead the program by paying up front for renovations done within the municipality and be reimbursed through the program.
Flynn said the municipal partnership on the project makes it easier for MEA to track the program.
“Now, they only have to go to one source of compliance,” he said. “They just come to me as the grant manager.”
Bladensburg resident Jose Tobar, 52, said upgrades for his home under the program last year cost $5,041 and included additional insulation in his attic, a new water heater and an energy-efficient dishwasher.
“Before, you could not stay on the second floor [of my home],” Tobar said. “It would be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Now you can feel comfortable.”
Residents in the 14 municipalities can contact their local town administrator office or Flynn at JFlynn@Bladensburg.net for more information.