Energy efficiency collaboratives or work groups can be helpful in gathering stakeholder input and resolving complex issues. In several EEFA states, coalition partners are advancing or participating in work groups focused specifically on low-income energy needs to further the dialogue and identify equitable energy efficient solutions. The EEFA state coalitions have been busy throughout the past few months. Take a look at some exciting state coalition updates:
The CA Public Utility Commission approved the final decision on the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) program. The CPUC adopted the coalition’s main recommendation to require utilities to file an advice letter to approve their MF program designs. This decision gives additional leverage to third-parties to propose their own program designs and to negotiate with utilities, who are over a year late in implementation and have so far declined to offer programs based on known best practices.
Also in CA, the Department of Water and Power (LADWP) created a new low-income and multifamily equity director position in response to EEFA’s advocacy and launched an equity advisory committee, composed of several EEFA partners. EEFA partners are working to submit pilot proposals to this forum for consideration by LADWP.
Affordable housing owners and residents will continue to reap the benefits of energy efficiency thanks to the Maryland Public Service Commission’s decision to continue the state’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability (MEEHA) program for the next 3 years. The MD EEFA coalition fought hard for the continuation of MEEHA as well as for program modifications to reduce barriers to participation. One such improvement approved by the PSC is ending the requirement that building owners pay the cost of an energy audit upfront. This requirement discouraged many building owners from applying to the program.
The Michigan EEFA network won a major victory for Michigan affordable multifamily owners and renters this month. After months of negotiations, EEFA partners and Consumers Energy reached an agreement for Consumers Energy to increase its low-income multifamily energy efficiency program budget to $24.6 million over four years, which is nearly 4 times the proposed budget of $5.2 million.
Community residents are celebrating a victory for clean air. Dearborn Industrial Generation (DIG) and CMS Energy canceled plans to expand its natural gas power plant in South Dearborn, a community with a high population of low-income residents. Following the lead of local partners, including the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, several Michigan EEFA partners submitted sign-on comments urging the Department of Environmental Quality to deny DIG’s proposed permit to install/expand their plant that would adversely impact this low-income community.
In Missouri, EEFA partners reached a settlement agreement with the state’s largest natural gas utility, Spire, for an energy efficiency budget increase of 30%, as well as a pledge to include affordable multifamily stakeholders and allies in its ongoing stakeholder collaborative.