Energy Efficiency Advisory Council Holds Workshops on Upcoming 3-Year Energy Plan

The groundwork is being laid today for tomorrow’s energy efficiency programs. Over the past several years, affordable housing building owners, including many MACDC Members, have taken advantage of the LEAN Multifamily Program for energy retrofits to their buildings. A process currently underway will determine how this program and other energy efficiency programs will operate starting in 2016.

The Commonwealth’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC) held a day-long workshop on February 26 in Westborough, on the upcoming three-year Energy Efficiency Plan for 2016-2018. The EEAC, formed by the Green Communities Act, oversees the utilities’ planning process and monitors the delivery of efficiency services. The three-year plans are developed by the utility Program Administrators in collaboration with the EEAC and with input from stakeholders and policymakers. The morning workshop focused on residential programs, primarily for 1-4 family homes. The afternoon workshop focused on the multifamily sector and the low income programs.

MACDC’s Senior Policy Advocate Don Bianchi attended the workshops, and offered comments on how the upcoming plan can best serve the energy efficiency needs of the Commonwealth and support the work of community-based nonprofits engaged in this work. MACDC followed up with submission of written comments MACDC Letter to EEAC.

MACDC’s concerns are focused on the following:

First, the affordable multifamily housing sector needs a dedicated program that will provide whole-building incentives at a time of refinancing, when a larger scope of rehab work coordinates with the existing framework when housing finance and state and local subsidy allocations are made. We need a new program, with new resources, to complement the existing Low Income Multifamily Program, which is better suited to subsidized projects that are mid-lifecycle, or during ongoing operations.

Second, if the eligibility criteria for the Low-Income Multifamily Program is broadened, as is being recommended by the LEAN Program Administrators, then more resources need to be secured for the Low Income Multifamily budget. Currently, the queue for gas-related incentives can be up to two years long and cannot accommodate additional pipeline without more funding. If the budget cannot accommodate the program demand then the utility program administrators may not be capturing all the energy savings available. In the absence of additional resources, MACDC believes that broadening the LIMF Program to a broader range of incomes or for broader uses should not be considered.

Third, increased data access is critical. This includes enforcement of the DPU Order that utilities establish a comprehensive statewide database of energy efficiency program results. A comprehensive statewide database will unlock private capital for deeper savings. Furthermore, such a database, which offers data on specific geographic locations, will enable CDCs and other community-based organizations to add appropriate energy efficiency program offerings to their financial coaching, homebuyer education and other programs that match the needs of their communities.

 

If you want to provide comments to the EEAC, you can address them to:

Dan Burgess

Chair, Energy Efficiency Advisory Council

Acting Commissioner, MA Department of Energy Resources

100 Cambridge Street, Suite 1020

Boston, MA 02114 e-mail address: dan.burgess@state.ma.us

Please note that the EEAC will be making its recommendations on the 3-year plan in late March, so the best time to submit comments for consideration by the EEAC is in the first two weeks of March, although they will accept comments at any time.

Questions about MACDC’s efforts can be directed to Don Bianchi at donb@macdc.org.