March 2013 Newsletter

March, 2013 Volume 5, Issue 2

The Weatherization PLUS Newsletter

Economic Opportunity Studies, Inc.  |  www.weatherizationplus.org

Top Story

WAP 2013 Funds: "Rescue" Now Up to DOE Secretary

Senate Supports Higher Funds for 2014

The 2013 Continuing Resolution passed both houses and was signed by the President on March 26. It contains no provisions regarding Weatherization Assistance; that means WAP is continued at the 2012 level of $68 million and subject to sequestration cuts. However, the Secretary has the authority to shift funding among Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs and submit the plan for Congressional approval.

The Senate adopted an amendment to the non-binding 2014 Budget Resolution which expanded future energy program funding to acommodate $50 million more for WAP on top of the higher base the Committee assumed.  The same resolution assumes an increase in LIHEAP of more than $1 billion. By contrast, the House-passed Budget assumes reductions in domestic discretionary programs below this year’s level.

Follow your national advocacy organizations’ news about efforts to influence the Secretary’s decision at www.nascsp.org and www.ncaf.org.


EOS is Exploring New ‘Leveraging’ Ideas

The task of our Leveraged Partnerships Project is to help Weatherizers find and keep partners with resources.

In this edition, we report on our inquiries into why it is hard to attract investment from owners of assisted housing and whether the trend of offering utility loans with on-bill repayments will work for low-income familes.

We need your stories of recent leveraging ideas and experiments. Please send us a few lines about your initiatives.


On-Bill Repayment Program Risks

Loans that pay for residential energy efficiency upgrades and are repaid with monthly utility bills are a potential source of low-cost, easy-access capital for building owners. In the past 5 years, many utilities and a number of states have enacted laws or regulations governing these on-bill repayment initiatives and have implemented programs in the residential market.

The risks to borrowers and utilities have not been examined to the same degree as have the potential benefits.  For most of the emerging programs, the consumer protections that are required elements of conventional consumer loans from regulated lenders are not explicitly included; among such policies would be disclosure of penalties, grievance procedures and adjudication regarding either services purchased or loan servicing. Nor are there standards for disclosures regarding borrower obligations upon transfer of occupancy. Borrowers who are tenants face more uncertainties.  Additional risks face consumers with very low incomes, including potential reduction of bill payment assistance benefits without a similar reduction in the billed amount and a greater likelihood of extended periods of disconnection.

A new EOS paper focuses on risks that must be considered by regulators, legislators and financing partners. It presents an agenda of questions and analyses that advocates for residential customers in general and for low-income populations in particular should ensure are addressed in program design and implementation.

The rest of the report can be found here.


Bridging the Divide Between HUD and DOE

Wayne Waite is the Regional Energy and Climate Operations Officer for the Pacific Hawaii Region at HUD.  During ARRA implementation, he played a major part in bridging the divide between HUD offices and Weatherization programs nationwide as WAP reached out to the owners of buildings listed on interagency list to develop projects.  Many state and local leaders in our network regard his contribution as essential to the successful conclusion of new partnerships.

EOS’ Project is seeking models of partnerships with apartment building owners, especially owners of affordable, assisted housing to promote more leveraging for WAP.  In a 2012 interview that we recently updated and posted here. Mr. Waite reflects on the formidable barriers caused by the policies of both Departments and suggests changes to attract the affordable housing community.  Waite’s top five challenges include: 

  • The cost to the owner of  WAP income verification and energy bill verification practices they consider duplicative with HUD recordkeeping or unnecessary;
  • The policies DOE adopted in 2010 that prohibit co-mingling HUD and DOE funds when purchasing a measure that has non-energy benefits;
  • The difficulty of obtaining retrofits of the common space or whole-property  equipment that are desirable to the owner;
  • The mismatch between traditional contracting by building owners in which a trusted General Contractor chooses trusted subcontractors  and the practice of inserting the WAP agency or team into a multi-part rehab or retrofit project under the General Contractor; and
  • Different technical requirements regarding multifamily audits and assessment.

Our Leveraging Project needs successes to share.

  • YOUR story of how a partnership with an owner of assisted housing worked.  Please email Madiana Mustapha and tell her if you are willing to talk about a partnership success story or problem. 
  • YOUR answers to our poll on multifamily housing in your programs’ future.  Please answer these short questions.

FOCUS ON LEVERAGING: Highlighting Tools You Can Use

Finding the right tools to help improve your leveraging programs has never been easier. We’ve rounded up all of our most useful resources and put them in one place. This month, we’d like to highlight the “Entering New Markets” section.  Whether you’re just getting started or have years of experience already under your belt, this toolkit contains case studies, promising practices, and hard data that will help you expand your program. You can also see what we have to offer in our other toolkits. Don’t forget to bookmark! We’re always updating the page and adding new tools.



The Newsletter of Economic Opportunity Studies’ Weatherization PLUS Leveraging Partnership Project brings timely information about developments that expand the Weatherization Assistance Program to help your organization take advantage of emerging opportunities. Visit the Weatherization PLUS portal for more information.

Why You Are Receiving This Email
Your name is on a list of federal and state Weatherization Program contacts from W.A.P. conference attendance records. Of course, you may unsubscribe (see below). However, we hope you will help us add the names and addresses of all who may be interested. Our promise: 1) We do not share our list, and, 2) The newsletter will be sent only when there is useful material for weatherizers.

Specific questions? Opinions? Subjects we should cover in the future? Email us at:
energy_leveraging_news@opportunitystudies.org

In This Issue:

» Weatherization Outlook
» On-Bill Repayment
» Interview w/ Wayne Waite of HUD
» Take Our Multifamily WAP Survey

Leveraging Toolkits are here!

Click on the wrench to start exploring!

 

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Multifamily Survey

 

 

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Our Project Staff:

Meg Power
Project Manager

Fred Stratton
Project Coordinator

Madiana Mustapha
Project Coordinator

Levi Juhl
Operations Coordinator

Leah Burcat
Legal Intern

Disclaimer: "This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof."

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