WAP Plus News: April 21, 2015

Weatherization Plus News: Funding 2015 and more

April 21, 2015

The Weatherization PLUS Newsletter

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

Top Story

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. 

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.

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:

In This Issue:

» Approaches to Partnering with Owners of Affordable Multi-family Housing

» What’s next? Utility Bills That Don’t Change with Your Usage [?!]

» Appreciating the late Senator Edward Brooke

New! DOE Consolidates Recordkeeping Policies

DID YOU KNOW that HUD Secretary Julian Castro wrote an open letter to utility companies and regulators in November 2014 requesting that they develop better procedures allowing building owners to access tenant and other utility usage.

DID YOU KNOW that HUD spends an estimated $6.4 billion annually on utilities (both water and energy) in the form of allowances for tenant-paid utilities, direct operating grants for public housing, and housing assistance payments for privately owned assisted housing.
View report here.

Remembering Sen. Edward W. Brooke 

Sen. Edward Brooke,

On March 10, former Senator Edward W. Brooke, was eulogized and honored with a hero's burial at Arlington Cemetery. 

The National Cathedral was packed full of high school students from his alma mater, Dunbar H.S. and with middle school students from Boston’s Edward W. Brooke charter schools. 

They learned what community action veterans remember:
Brooke was a passionate champion of opportunity for all. 

He won the cap on the rental costs for assisted housing tenants and, with WI Senator Nelson originated the programs that eventually became W.A.P. and LIHEAP. 

While he was a consummate legislator and deal-maker, he never shrank from speaking truth to power.    

See this video of Sen. Brooke speaking hard truths to the Congressional leadership in 2009.    

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Our Project Staff:

Meg Power
Project Manager

Madiana Mustapha

Project Coordinator

Rick Vasquez

Media Manager

Olivia Robinson

Legal Research Associate

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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