Mayor Marion Barry inaugurated the city's winter energy conservation and financial assistance program yesterday, personally processing Lillian B. Gaston's $336 aid request at the keyboard of a new computer system.
"I do a lot of things, but I don't type," said the mayor, looking a little hesitant at the computer terminal.
Barry touted the city's three primary energy programs, dubbed "Cold Busters," as a "triple threat" aimed at making homes more energy efficient and lowering heat bills. The low-income home energy assistance program, under which Gaston will receive her money, will dispense $6.8 million in federal funds to more than 14,000 households this winter.
Barry and Chuck Clinton, director of the D.C. Energy Office, said the city hopes to shift the emphasis away from such short-term assistance to long-term economies made possible by two other programs offered through the city.
The residential conservation service program, administered by the District and performed by Pepco and Washington Gas Light Co., provides residents with an energy audit aimed at finding the sources of energy waste.
The energy bank, a program that has grown considerably in each of the last three years, gives loan subsidies to eligible residents to help them install energy conservation equipment. The service will distribute $1.4 million in loans and grants this year to an estimated 660 houses, up from $337,000 and 198 houses last year.
"We will urge all our citizens once an energy audit has been done to look into the grants and subsidized loans," said Barry. District officials estimate that residents can save an average of $296 this winter if they "tighten up" their residences.
The mayor, revving up the energy office workers and mugging for the cameras, toured the various offices devoted to helping consumers, including the fuel assistance operation and an energy efficiency workshop.
"Who ya gonna call?" he asked, alluding to the hit movie "Ghostbusters" and receiving the expected reply, "Cold Busters!"
The hot line number for residents with questions about the program is 724-2100.