An Advocate Brings Funding to TAP Programs

A Conversation with Billy Weitzenfeld

Billy Weitzenfeld is the executive director of the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals (AECP), a role he’s served in for 20 years. This nonprofit group promotes and advocates for energy conservation, and serves as a support and resource group for Virginia’s Weatherization Assistance Program. TAP is a founding member of the AECP board, on which we continue to play a leadership role. Recently, Weitzenfeld spoke with us to look back on his relationship with TAP and the work he has done on the state level to benefit the kind of energy conservation programs TAP offers.

A Natural Partnership

Through the years, Weitzenfeld has worked extensively with utility companies in Virginia to develop what he describes as a “natural partnership” between utilities and weatherization. When Weitzenfeld began, the utilities in Virginia were doing nothing in terms of promoting or funding energy efficiency programs in the state. “We just kept working with them,” recalls Weitzenfeld. Eventually, he with the help of others was able to broker a partnership with Appalachian Power Company (APCO) for a program in southwest Virginia that TAP participated in, weatherizing 175 homes. (This program was funded through the utilities foundation so ratepayers were not impacted.)

Weitzenfeld understood that the execution of that very first partnership would gain AECP and TAP credibility, helping accelerate progress in the uphill battle to gain funding for energy conservation.

“We did a really good job. And that set the stage for not only APCO, which now has a long-term program that provides supplemental funds to help weatherize homes, but now Dominion Energy also has programs to work with weatherization.”

Rallying Resources to Fuel TAP’s Mission

Private utilities aren’t the only area where Weitzenfeld has worked to bring resources to TAP. One of AECP’s first significant accomplishments on the state level was bringing LIHEAP funds to Virginia and to TAP. LIHEAP stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; the program helps low-income households pay for heating and cooling and also funds weatherization improvements. This funding helps TAP weatherize hundreds of homes each year across eleven localities.

When asked about whether TAP’s Weatherization program is a good investment, Weitzenfeld said he couldn’t think of a better one.

“Because TAP is a nonprofit, every dollar goes into helping people. With the services that are provided, it’s important for people to understand that the level of expertise is just through the roof. The testing protocol we use guarantees energy savings and guarantees the home is going to be healthier and safer. That’s very important. We are going to save people money and allow them to have more disposable income in their household. But we’re also a health and safety program. We come into homes and through the work we do we make the home healthier, we impact indoor air quality, we impact carbon monoxide, moisture, mold, and lead paint. When you have a community that has more affordable, safer, and healthier homes, you have a stronger community on a lot of levels.”