A Primer for the Affordable Housing Community
A new federal rule requires states to reduce certain carbon emissions. The Clean Power Plan creates an historic opportunity to increase energy efficiency in affordable rental housing, because those investments will provide a cost-effective way to meet the new requirements. The plan each state adopts should include energy efficiency investments in affordable housing. The affordable housing community needs to get involved now with state officials as planning is already well underway.
The CPP provides an opportunity to secure new funding sources for energy efficiency investments in affordable housing, which will benefit residents, building owners, and low-income communities. There are several ways the CPP could lead to investments in affordable housing. For example, utilities can directly invest in energy efficiency in affordable multifamily housing as a means to cut carbon emissions or purchase pollution allowances or emission rate credits (ERCs) from an entity, public or private (e.g., state agency, utility, energy performance contractor, etc.), that achieves measurable energy savings in affordable housing.
States have a range of options to reduce carbon emissions and will need encouragement to prioritize energy efficiency in their CPP compliance plans. Options for reducing carbon emissions beyond energy efficiency include improving the operational efficiency of power plants, shifting electricity generation from coal-fired plants to lower emitting natural gas-fired power plants, and increasing generation from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. While these strategies may have an important role to play in state plans, energy efficiency is the least costly way for states to meet their pollution reduction targets. According to the EPA, “Demand-side EE (energy efficiency) is an important, cost-effective, proven strategy that states are already widely using and which can substantially and cost-effectively lower CO2 emissions from the power sector.”