Department Of Energy to Contrarian Economists: Weatherization IS a Good Investment. See Our Evaluations!
In August 10, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Kathleen Hogan posted this authoritative response to an unpublished, online June 15 article reporting on a study of 5 Michigan CAAs’ ARRA Weatherization program. The conclusions of the three economist authors that Weatherization over-invested in homes because of unreliable NEAT audit results and that recruiting for WAP participation is very costly provoked a kerfuffle of consternation and rebuttals in the energy efficiency community and in trade publications. Dr. Hogan’s blog both highlights weak links between the evidence and the conclusions asserted and defends the success of ARRA WAP in achieving its multiple goals.
As part of the rebuttal, a Fact Sheet summarizing key findings from both long-waited massive evaluations [PY 2008 and ARRA 2010] conducted by Oak Ridge National Lab was published. Download it HERE.
Among the important results:
- The PY 2008 program units averaged a savings-to-investment ratio of 1.4 measured on energy bill savings alone.
- When health, safety and other non-energy benefits were added, the program returned $4.10 for every invested dollar.
- During the first year of ARRA, when energy bills were lower and program costs higher, the S-I-R for energy bill savings alone was just under 1:1 for all units. However single-family homes weatherized in that first and most challenging ARRA year, still will realize bill reductions that exceed the WAP investments.
Q: What Is The 2015 Local WAP Network? A: Community Action Agencies, Plus!
In Program Year 2015, state Weatherization offices have selected 757 local subgrantees to deliver the Weatherization investments to low-income homes and awarded them a total of $187,037,463 from 2015 and prior year funds. More than three quarters (76%) will be awarded to local Community Action Agencies [CAAs].
The 58 states’ and territories plans’ identified 757 subgrantees, of which 592, 78%, were CAAs. The other categories of subgrantee organization and their resources are:
- 102 other non-profit agencies, not CAAs, with 16% of funds,
- 61 units of local government or Councils of governments with 7% of funds and
- 8 Indian tribes.
Only nine states - Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Wyoming - had less than 50% of their DOE funding allotted to CAAs. See our more detailed report on the 2015 local network online.
Find the 1100+ certified Weatherization Quality Control Inspectors
See our new locator map showing a pin at each location with one or more inspectors; use the index tab to find the contact info for all QCI’s at each location.
Free Webinar: The Looming Threat of Flat-Charge Utility Bills – How to Understand it and Ally with the Resistance
John T. Colgan, consultant to the EOS Weatherization Leveraged Partnerships Project, explained the negative impact of new utility industry rate proposals that move a much larger share of residential monthly bills from the energy use charge into the flat, fixed cost category of the bill.
Run the recorded webinar above. Download slides
From our April 20, 2015 newsletter.
Our new report: Partnering with Owners of Affordable Multi-family Housing
"Today, the EOS Weatherization Leveraged Partnerships Project released a report intended to help Weatherization organizations expand their multifamily partnerships, leverage owners’ own financing and expand opportunities for WAP workers. The report - Building Energy Efficiency Partnerships for Affordable Multifamily Housing includes these tools:
New financing sources, both government and private, designed for owners of assisted and affordable housing to fund energy and other upgrades how they are accessed;
The information, skills and project management expertise building owners need from your team;
Lists of potential new partners - projects and properties approved for new financing and/or due for rehab and upgrades - by address and owner;
Utility program campaigns by affordable housing groups that may affect your existing utility program that are seeking Weatherizers’ support;
State and local public policy changes that need your support to create more demand for WAP services; and
Analysis of some much-publicized efficiency funding concepts that helps separate the useful from the merely hoped-for.
Download the report HERE. Weatherizers take note: Our first Appendix [A] is a 4-page Guide to the 22-page report telling you why each section is useful as a tool for WAP managers and the practical pointers to look for.
From our April 20, 2015 newsletter.
What’s Next? Utility Bills That Don’t Change with Your Usage [?!]
A new utility industry campaign is behind rate proposals that move a much larger share of a residential customer’s monthly bills from the energy use charge into the fixed cost category of the bill. Unfortunately, some regulators have already approved the change.
What would change? Traditionally, fixed charges (also known as the customer charge, service charge or basic charge) are limited to meter reading, billing costs and collection expenses. The new rate submissions seek to recover some or all distribution system costs through the fixed charge instead of varying them according to the level of use.
What fixed charge rates would mean for WAP’s population and for energy conservation
- “Low-use” customers, whether single residents of tiny apartments, residents of net-zero energy new homes or just budget-conscious families, will see the biggest bill increases.
- Homeowners investing in renewable energy or weatherization will have to rely primarily on the rewards of environmental virtue, not bill savings, as their payback.
- Unless the WAP statute is re-written so its purpose is primarily healthier homes or reduced emissions, few WAP jobs could meet the SIR.
Today, the less energy a customer uses, the lower the bill. WAP’s statutory purpose is to lower bills by increasing efficiency. What happens where much less usage means little change in the bill? All customers know that using less lowers their utility bill, but lower-income customers are especially reliant on keeping usage to a minimum; on average, WAP-eligible homes use almost 20% less energy than does the rest of the population in the same region.
What Is the Industry’s Justification?
Utilities are claiming they cannot recover their costs nor make their guaranteed rate of return with the current rate design. Reasons most commonly cited: declining sales in recent years and, in some areas, more decentralized generating equipment – especially roof-top solar. Fixed charges are paid by anyone connected to the grid, including owners of solar and wind power.
What Can the Weatherization and Community Action Network Do? Pay attention to this new challenge – not only to utility low-income programs - in your state. The good news is there is a diverse national alliance – environmental groups, solar industry interests and consumer groups - organizing to resist this trend Commission by Commission: the Fixed Charge Defense Network. EOS has a skilled associate participating, John T. Colgan of IL. He will help us create material WAP and CAA associations can use at home in partnership with other coalition members. See the most recent map of states at risk HERE. Contact EOS if your association or other statewide organization wants to join the coalition and we will link you to staff and local partners.
EOS Project Coordinator for Sustainable Financing Madiana Mustapha testified at a Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia community hearing, December 17, 2014.
Mustapha testified on the merger application of Exelon Corporation, Pepco Holdings, Inc., Potomac Electric Power Company, Exelon Energy Delivery Company, LLC and New Special Purpose Entity, LLC.
Click on the link to read her testimony on Formal Case No. 1119.
A New Online Purchasing and Pricing Tool for “Green” & High-Efficiency Products
Quantity Quotes, a simple online marketplace, allows purchasers to get competitive quotes on green and energy-efficient products, including clothes washers, refrigerators, air conditioners and dishwashers. Quantity Quotes is a free, easy way for purchasers to gain multiple bids and competitive pricing, while suppliers to Quantity Quotes benefit from increased sales and access to institutional markets. Quantity Quotes can put purchasers in touch with a range of large and small vendors across the country.
This information may be useful to WAP delivery agencies and even more useful to their private contractors. Please share this announcement.
The types of products available from Quantity Quotes will be expanding soon to include water-efficiency toilets, shower heads, and faucets, and recycled-content insulation. Expansion to suppliers in more states is also in the works. To learn more, visit http://quantityquotes.net.
From the October 16, 2014 The Weatherization PLUS Newsletter
How Low-Income Households Use Energy in Different Regions, Climates and Buildings: a graphic comparison
Both the similarities and differences in energy usage patterns can be useful when targeting and marketing the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
Midwest Census Region
As policymakers, state managers and community delivery organizations plan how WAP and related resources will be targeted to achieve the greatest impact, they consider household energy burden, residents’ age and vulnerability and how much energy is being used and wasted.
West Census Region
EOS has created visual displays of how much energy is used for different purposes in five kinds of income-eligible homes in the different regions and climates zones.
They show that -
Single-family homes in the Midwest use the most energy while apartments in large buildings in the West use the least.
In every climate region, apartments in 5+ unit buildings use about less than half as much energy as single-family detached homes in the same region, but usage in apartments in small buildings [2-4 units] is more similar to detached homes.
Download our “Energy Use of Low-Income Households” fact sheets.
October 16, 2014 Newsletter
From the October 16, 2014 The Weatherization PLUS Newsletter
Leveraging Resources for Multi-family Building Retrofits – A Compendium of Today’s Utility Rebates, Grants and Loans
Search our new state-by- state, utility-by-utility tables of utility financial incentives for efficiency upgrades to apartments [and some for common space] in large multifamily buildings which we extracted from the complex Department of Energy Dsire database. Support for the multi-family building sector is far less developed or differentiated than are the programs for the small home market. Most are simple rebate programs; a few are specific for low-income consumers, and many are the same for apartments in large buildings and for single-family homes. Not all of the programs listed provide a comprehensive range of incentives.
The grant programs for low-income multifamily housing are minimal at best. A few on-bill loan repayment programs are listed, but these initiatives, which could carry considerable risks for tenants, have not multiplied this past year.
Click on the following links to view the tables: Rebates
Click on the logo above to view the presentations from the EOS
August 6 – 7 Leveraging Low-Income Energy Partnerships
Did You Know? Weatherization Assistance is, or was recently, a $959 Million Program!
The EOS Leveraged Partnerships Project tracks non-federal resources and LIHEAP that are coordinated with WAP by state or local WAP agencies. In calendar year 2013, we estimate that the network delivered services with over $959 million. Along with about $237 million in DOE base funds from various years and ARRA closeout, $332.6 million came from utility ratepayer-funded initiatives and greenhouse gas exchanges; $321.7 million was from LIHEAP transfers and $68 million from states’ tax or fee revenues. The graph below shows the contribution from each source.
While the leveraged funding sources are generally continuing or growing in 2014, shrinkage in WAP funding and delays mean that the calendar year spending may drop by over $100 million, leaving WAP at about 15% of the integrated programs.
June 9, 2014 Newsletter
The experience of managing multiple sources and uses of energy retrofit funds is not shared nationwide. Some state’s local agencies have ten-fold leveraged funds to WAP or even more, while some other states have less funding from leveraged funds than from WAP. EOS will soon be publishing a more in-depth look at the variety of practices and experiences with winning , managing and keeping leveraged funds in the post-ARRA environment.
John T. Colgan 4-part interview
Conversations with Illinois regulatory commissioner John T. Colgan [Formerly of the Illinois Community Action Association] about advocating for affordable energy policies and leveraging those policies into new partnerships and resources. He explains how and why Weatherizers and their community Action partners must stay engaged and looks at some of the issues utility regulators must decide these days.