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June Energy Efficiency for All Update

Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) is a collaboration established by the National Housing Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Energy Foundation, and Elevate Energy, to link the energy and housing sectors together in order to tap the benefits of energy efficiency for millions of low-income families.

Take a look at these exciting state coalition updates:

Maryland- MEEA Helps Secure Maryland’s Commitment to Efficiency

Late last year the Maryland Energy Efficiency Advocates coalition (MEEA) realized there was a risk that the Public Service Commission (PSC) might backslide in its commitment to energy efficiency, which could prohibit the renewal of the state’s low-income multifamily programs for the 2018-2020 cycle. To prevent that from happening, a subset of coalition members with the credentials and capacity to lobby using resources outside of EEFA worked with the legislature directly on a bill codifying the historic 2015 order. To combat anti-efficiency messaging, the coalition worked with partners to develop communication and education tools that emphasized the multiple benefits current efficiency programs provide to the state. The bill hit the governor’s desk, avoided his veto and became law on April 7th. In addition, the PSC ordered a $4 million increase in funding for affordable multifamily building energy efficiency from the Exelon/Pepco merger customer benefits fund, MEEA formed a new alliance with a statewide group that promotes energy assistance (the Energy Advocates), and the coalition is pressing forward for improvements to the Low-Income Energy Efficiency and Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability Programs for 2018-2020.

Michigan- Spending Cap on Efficiency Programs Lifted

In April, the Michigan utility spending cap on energy efficiency investments was removed. Michigan EEFA (MEEFA) partners NRDC, the Michigan Environmental Council, and other network partners played an active role for two years advocating for the value of efficiency programs through working groups, potential studies and direct conversations with utilities.

Minnesota- Preserving PACE for Multifamily

While Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funds have not yet been widely utilized by multifamily properties in Minnesota, use of this financing resource is increasing and provides an alternative financing option for owners that do not want to take on traditional debt. At the same time, we want to assure that PACE financing would not lead to predatory lending to unsuspecting consumers. The Minnesota Multifamily Affordable Housing Energy Network (MMAHEN) facilitated a dialogue on the value of PACE for multifamily owners and the potential vulnerability of the sector to predatory lending practices. Based upon the dialogue between advocates and subject matter experts, we determined that multifamily building owners have a sophisticated understanding of financing and lending, and likely would not fall victim to the same predatory lending behaviors that single-family homeowners might face. These insights from MMAHEN members convinced supporters of PACE funds to preserve PACE as a resource for affordable multifamily properties.

Pennsylvania- Tackling Energy Affordability and Owner Engagement

The PA Public Utility Commission is embarking on a year-long, comprehensive review of the state’s approach to improving energy affordability for low-income residents. The PA-EEFA coalition intends to ensure that the energy affordability needs of low-income renters are addressed. They have already submitted comments on the range of topics that they think should be addressed. In addition, the coalition continues to actively encourage multifamily owners to participate in the newly launched electric utility energy efficiency programs. Led by PA-EEFA member, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, the coalition has directly engaged more than 500 affordable housing developers, owners, property managers and other housing stakeholders to educate them about existing programs and connect them with the utilities.

Virginia- Educating the Public on Utility Rates v. Bills

Dominion Virginia Power’s rates are a hot election-year issue in the Commonwealth. Meanwhile; despite the implementation of a successful multifamily energy efficiency pilot program, delivered thanks to advocacy by our Virginia Multifamily Energy Efficiency Coalition (VMFEEC); Dominion has meager energy efficiency program offerings for residents, particularly low-income Virginians. To educate reporters and public officials the Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) released a report on Dominion Virginia Power's increasing electricity bills and lack of energy efficiency savings. The report is part of a campaign plan by VPLC's new Affordable Clean Energy Project, which will bring a much-needed consumer voice to VMFEEC.

For more information about the Energy Efficiency for All collaboration, please contact NHT’s Director of Housing and Energy Efficiency Todd Nedwick.