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Heinrich, Biden official tour home made more efficient with federal funds

White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu and Sen. Martin Heinrich toured a home in Albuquerque’s International District that was having its electrical systems upgraded.

Landrieu and Heinrich visited the Morales’ home near La Mesa Elementary in Albuquerque.

The Morales family bought the home in 1962 and its current owner is single mother Jennifer Morales, who lives there with her four children. 

The system upgrades were more than just to make the home more environmentally sustainable, it was also to make the home healthier, safer and more comfortable for the Morales family, Ona Porter of Prosperity Works New Mexico said.

Poverty advocacy group Prosperity Works was the organization that helped the family access the upgrades, including air sealing window frames and weatherizing outside doors, water heater tank and pipe insulation and installing a 200 amp electric service panel. In all, the upgrades were worth $10,550.

Prosperity Works helps limited-income New Mexican households “with social and financial assets to ensure sustainable, equitable solutions for building strong, thriving communities,” the group’s website states.

“I thought I hit the lottery,” Jennifer Morales said about the upgrades. “I was, like, floored. I was, like, ‘no way’.”

White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu talks about the upgrades being done at the Morales home as Jennifer Morales and Martin Heinrich listen on July 6, 2023.
White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu talks about the upgrades being done at the Morales home as Jennifer Morales and Martin Heinrich listen on July 6, 2023.

She said she had expected the smaller things like LED light bulbs and high efficiency shower heads,but was happily shocked when she saw the other work that was done.

EnergyWorks conducted a comprehensive energy assessment and installed the new electrical service panel.

The old panel held about 100 amps, Doug Campion of EnergyWorks said.

The additional amps in the panel allows Morales to install central heat and air, a high efficiency hot water heater or an electric vehicle charger, Campion said.

“What we have to do now, is not only bring this up to code, but we’ll have to add the additional electricity,” Campion said. “It’s one of the fun parts electricians and contractors like (EnergyWorks) will face as we continue to see more incentives come is the need to bring building up to code.”

Morales was put into contact with Prosperity Works through a local church, Heinrich said.

Prosperity Works worked with utilities, the City of Albuquerque, the Bernalillo County Water Authority and other groups for the upgrades.

The visit to the Morales home was part of a tour promoting President Joe Biden’s Invest in America programs.

New Mexico received $26 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for home energy efficiency and weatherization projects through grants awarded through the BIL.

“The president, when he ran said, ‘Look, I want to unite the country, restore the soul of the nation and I want to rebuild America’,” Landrieu said. “The way you do that is by investing in people and investing in things and this is a prime example of the work that the senator and President Biden did on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, on the Inflation Reduction Act. If you pass a piece of legislation and it doesn’t get down to the ground where it matters, and it doesn’t matter.”

Landrieu, Heinrich and local media were allowed in the Morales’ home where they saw how federal, state, local and charity funding worked together, Landrieu said.

 So today, we’re at the home of (the Morales’s who) allowed us into their home to demonstrate what it looks like when federal and state and local money are stacked on top of each other (and) partners in the faith based community come together.”

Heinrich is the co-founder and co-chair of the bicameral Electrification Caucus and helped secure $87 million for New Mexicans with the High Efficiency Home Rebates program in the Inflation Reduction Act.

These rebates help low and moderate income households to access up to $14,000 in savings when they upgrade appliances and weatherize their homes, a news release about the program stated.

The Caucus came “up with a strategy to electrify (homes) and get rid of those emissions is a huge part of how you solve climate change but you know what, make people’s homes a lot healthier and more comfortable in the process,” Heinrich said.