|March, 2013 Volume 5, Issue 2|
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.
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:
Our Leveraging Project needs successes to share.
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.
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