Elevate and METEC Collaborate on Peoria Home Updates

This is the ninth blog in a series celebrating the grant projects funded through our Clean Air Act settlement with the owners of the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant outside Peoria, Illinois.

A home with new windows from METEC.

More than fifty houses in Peoria have been retrofitted with healthy home and energy efficiency updates, thanks to a thoughtful collaboration between two Edwards Settlement grantees. Elevate is a Chicago-headquartered nonprofit that works to provide access to clean and affordable energy, with an emphasis on health. METEC Resource Center is a Peoria-based, HUD-approved counseling agency that is dedicated to empowering home ownership, employment, and financial wellbeing. Although the organizations applied for and were awarded separate grants, their unique expertise allowed them to work together to provide their services more effectively to homeowners who needed it. 

Elevate and METEC’s programs have focused on bringing energy efficiency to low-income populations in Peoria. The housing stock there consists of many older homes, often with deferred maintenance due to the financial status of the homeowners. To be eligible for retrofits, households had to be at or below 80% area median income, which was around $54,000 for a two-person household in 2022. Many of the homeowners were substantially below that income threshold and were often elderly. 

The process starts with a contractor – the organizations sought out minority, women-owned, and veteran contractors – entering the home, assessing its condition and the homeowner’s concerns and priorities, and making recommendations to Elevate and/or METEC about possible improvements. Many homes presented health and safety concerns that needed to be addressed at the outset, to prepare the home for future improvements. For example, some houses had outdated “knob-and-tube” style electrical wiring that needed to be updated before more modern, efficient appliances could be installed. Others had failing roofs or pest infestations that needed to be addressed to prevent air from escaping and ensure the homeowners would get the full benefits of added insulation. These and other pre-requisite upgrades can be essential to qualifying the home for further free or subsidized energy-efficiency programs, such as those offered by local utilities.    They also improve homeowners’ comfort, which Elevate’s Associate Director of Environmental Health, Amanda Gramigna, emphasizes is an important consideration in the work. 

METEC is Peoria-based, and their reputation as a “familiar face” helped both organizations identify and build trust with the residents whose homes were improved with Edwards funds. METEC and Elevate often did complementary work in the same houses. Elevate focused on installing insulation and upgrading homeowners to energy-efficient appliances, while METEC upgraded roofs and windows. Elevate’s energy efficiency and healthy homes expertise paired well with METEC’s local knowledge, and their partnership has resulted in safer, healthier, and more economical living conditions for Peoria homeowners. We’re thankful to Elevate and METEC for their work.

Related Issues
Equity & Justice

Related Blogs