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Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

NHLP has taken a leadership role in national efforts to facilitate energy efficiency and renewable energy investments in affordable housing through partnering with the Network for Energy, Water and Health in Affordable Buildings (NEWHAB), as well as by chairing the Utility Allowance Working Group of the Green Rental Home Energy Efficiency Network (GREEN). Convened by our partner, the California Housing Partnership Corporation, this first-of-its kind GREEN working group includes interests essential to formulating responsive energy policies, including NHLP’s representation of low-income tenant interests, nonprofit housing owners, energy consultants, and agency staff from HUD and various state agencies, including the California Energy Commission and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC).

Recent Cases:

California Public Utility Commission, Energy-Efficiency Improvements for Affordable Rental Housing (2014). The key recommendations adopted include: (1) allowing anIOU to treat the entire multifamily building as eligible if at least 80% of the units are income-qualified under the ESA program, (2) not counting housing subsidies as income, and (3) requiring IOUs to propose expedited enrollment for HUD-assisted buildings where at least 80% of the tenants have incomes at or below 200% of federal poverty level. (pp. 62-63). The decision further directs IOUs to propose cost-effective measures in multifamily buildings including common area measures and central heating, cooling, and hot water systems. (p. 64). To increase program utilization in multifamily rental housing, the decision also requires IOUs to work directly with building owners, establish a single point of contact and take steps to increase coordination among low-income energy assistance programs.


New California Energy Bills Aim to Include Low-Income Communities. On October 9, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed several landmark bills to further California’s aggressive climate goals. These bills are notable for their inclusion of low-income communities and their potential to improve the quality of life of multifamily affordable housing tenants. NHLP is working to help ensure that the benefits promised by these bills reach low-income tenants.

CPUC Adopts Recommendations to Facilitate Energy-Efficiency Improvements for Affordable Rental Housing. On August 14, 2014, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously adopted several key recommendations in their final decision that will enable greater utilization by multifamily buildings in the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program for the upcoming 2015-2017 program cycle.

Other Materials:

California Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program (2015). This program provides solar incentives on qualifying affordable multifamily dwellings and requires owners ensure that tenants benefit from solar retrofits.

EEFA, Program Design Guide: Energy Efficiency Programs in Multifamily Affordable housing (2015). A guide that is intended to explain specific best practices to efficiency program professionals; it provides 12 strategies for utilities to help owners invest to improve MFAH in their communities.

Partnering for Success: An Action Guide for Advancing Utility Energy Efficiency Funding for Multifamily Rental Housing, National Housing Trust, March 2013.

NCLC, Up the Chimney: How HUD's Inaction Costs Taxpayers Millions and Drives Up Utility Fills for Low Income Families (2010).

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