|February 26, 2015|
The President’s Budget Request for 2016
The WAP request is the same as was made a year ago plus $1 million added for DOE’s own Activities. The Request represents about 18% more than current funding. This is consistent with the overall DOE budget blueprint which asks for a 30% increase in all Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy spending.
The LIHEAP request includes four surprises : 1- This is the first year in many that the Budget doesn’t cut LIHEAP by 20-30%. 2- It takes $200 million dollars out of formula grants to demonstrate effective utility LIHEAP collaborations. 3- It asks for new legislation authorizing automatic spending based on set trigger prices and temperatures. This would bring the total available in FY2016 to about the $4.5 billion that many in Congress have recommended to the President, and 4- the Budget proposes legislation to require state LIHEAP programs to transfer 10% to energy efficiency activities [not necessarily WAP] and to allow up to 40% to be transferred. Advocacy groupslike the National Community Action Foundation say not to expect much change given the current constrained budget environment unless there is intense pressure from the grass roots.
For the first time in four years, the Administration dropped its proposal to cut CSBG in half and instead proposed a freeze at current levels and congratulated the CAA network [and itself ] for major advances in creating organizational standards of operations and results measurement. Since both Houses of Congress have held funding steady through all four years of Budget requests to cut the program, it seems a good bet that this year’s Request for CSBG is viable.
New Allies at Your Commission?
The National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP) is sponsored by the HPC, Home Performance Council. [The HPC is a merger of Affordable Comfort and Efficiency First.] It is a campaign to broaden the cost-effectiveness tests for utility customer-funded efficiency programs so they include values for non-energy benefits.
Weatherizers have won many state regulatory decisions to get non-energy societal benefits included in the calculations of benefits that come from low-income programs. And we have also lost a few. It is good news that advocates for low-income investments can look forward to new support from an industry group and their experts.
NESP has articulated a Resource Value Framework - a set of principles for regulators to use in updating their cost benefit methodology. Advocacy tools, including a practice manual will be developed in the future. EOS will be working on connecting NESP advocates with Weatherizers ’ state efforts to broaden the formula for program benefits. PLEASE LET US KNOW if you are currently engaged in debates or proceedings where non-energy benefits are on the table and could use more allies. Contact Olivia Robinson, our legal research associate or call any of us at 202 628 4900.
IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY: Leveraging Project Funds
This season is the time WAP and LIHEAP state plans are developed -which makes it the moment to develop a strategy and budget for work on keeping and expanding utility funding for WAP-coordinated work. WAP program funds CAN fund people and materials for planning, outreach and educating policy makers.
Utility efficiency programs in general have more than doubled in 5 years, but the low-income funding has grown far less. The industry predicts continued expansion. Weatherizers need to join the decision venues and keep or expand low-income shares of these investments.
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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