Weatherization Project Brings Jobs, Savings, and Better Air to Chelsea

Special to the Record

Many turned out to help with the Chelsea’s weatherization pilot project on a Carmel Street home. The program will weatherize up to 130 units of housing, cut residents’ energy bills, improve air quality, and create six to nine high-quality construction jobs.

Dozens of Chelsea residents, construction union members, utility representatives and civic and community leaders gathered at the Carmel Street home of Alejandrina Rodriguez to kick off Chelsea’s weatherization pilot project. The program will weatherize up to 130 units of housing, cut residents’ energy bills, improve air quality, and create six to nine high-quality construction jobs.

“Chelsea residents pay for energy efficiency programs, such as home insulation and air sealing, on their utility bills every month,” said Jovanna Garcia Soto, Lead Green Space Organizer at the Chelsea Collaborative, the pilot’s primary sponsor. “This project returns that money to Chelsea, making sure that lower-income families cut their utility bills and have more comfortable homes, especially in cold winter months.  An added benefit is that Chelsea residents will get good construction jobs that provide a pathway into the Carpenters Union apprenticeship program.”

The pilot program makes weatherization affordable and accessible for low-to-moderate-income Chelsea residents. The state’s MassSave program, which is funded by utility customers, will pay three-quarters of the weatherization costs. Additional financial incentives have been made available from the City of Chelsea through grant funding focused on reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gases.

This is another exciting initiative that we are undertaking in Chelsea to make our community and beyond a better, healthier place.  There continues to be a need out there for grassroots organizing to get into homes and make weatherization and the energy savings it produces possible.  I’m grateful to all those who are helping to make this happen, and so pleased to see Chelsea getting greener by the day” said Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash.

The Chelsea Collaborative’s Green Space Committee leads the initiative by informing and engaging interested residents in the program.  They explain the benefits, cost and process to weatherize a home and lead the customer throughout what can be a somewhat lengthy process.  According to Associate Executive Director and Chelsea City Councilor Roseann Bongiovanni “many if not all of the residents we’ve spoken to did not know these programs existed before we contacted them about the opportunity.” She further stated, “By reducing energy consumption in Chelsea, we are essentially reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and are thereby reducing our carbon footprint.”

“Energy Efficiency is one of the easiest, most effective ways to reduce energy use, resulting in lower energy bills for our customers and creating green jobs for the Commonwealth,” said Monica Ibrahim, residential program manager, Energy Efficiency, National Grid. “This project is a great example of how we, working together with Massachusetts communities, unions and civic leaders, can help our customers to achieve significant energy savings for a cleaner, greener and stronger economic and environmental future.”

The pilot partners include the City of Chelsea, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, union contractor Insul-Pro, NSTAR, National Grid and Conservation Services Group.  The Green Justice Coalition, coordinated by Community Labor United, spearheaded this pilot and three additional in Boston’s Chinatown, Lynn, and Springfield.

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