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Nearly 7,000 Indiana homes weatherized with federal money

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Indiana has weatherized nearly 6,900 homes using federal stimulus dollars, making it eligible to receive the second half of its money for the program.

Indiana was the 49th state to receive approval for its program when it began in August 2009 and got off to a slow start in doing the work. But it is now the 18th state to complete 30 percent of its goal to retrofit about 20,000 homes to make them more energy efficient, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman said Tuesday.

"We purposefully spent time preparing for this program because we wanted to get it right," Skillman said. "We're glad we were careful because its paying off."

With nearly 6,900 homes finished, Indiana is eligible for the second round of its federal funds, or about $63 million of the $131.7 million total. Plans call for the state to finish 20,000 homes by March 2012.

Skillman spoke outside of the Indianapolis home of Kenneth and Paula Holsclaw, who got more than $12,000 in home improvements from the Southeast Neighborhood Development Corp. About $5,000 came from Indiana's Home Energy Conservation Program funded in part with federal stimulus money.

The combined improvements included new insulation, a new breaker box and a new hot water heater.

Paula Holsclaw, 79, said the improvements are saving the couple money.

"We couldn't have done it," she said. "It takes all we have to survive."

State officials acknowledged earlier this year that they were several weeks behind in meeting initial benchmarks to complete home improvements under the program.

Much of the money was awarded to groups, including the Indiana Builders Association, that were not among about 20 community action organizations that participated in the state's regular weatherization efforts.

Because there was so much new money involved, the state wanted to expand its efforts to include more areas and vendors and gave grants to 10 more groups, Skillman said. The $131.7 million in stimulus money is about 1,000 times more than the state's annual weatherization budget.

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