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October 9, 2015: New California Energy Bills Aim to Include Low-Income Communities

This week Governor Jerry Brown signed several landmark bills to further California’s aggressive climate goals. These bills are notable for their inclusion of low-income communities and their potential to improve the quality of life of multifamily affordable housing tenants. NHLP is working to help ensure that the benefits promised by these bills reach low-income tenants.

Assembly Bill 693 (Eggman) provides $100 million annually for ten years to incentivize the installation of at least 300 MW of solar in multifamily affordable housing. The bill is designed to specifically benefit over 200,000 low-income tenants by crediting the energy savings generated by new solar systems directly to their utility bills.

Senate Bill 350 (de León) requires California to generate half of its electricity from renewable energy sources and double the energy efficiency of existing factories, offices, and homes by 2030. The bill acknowledges that several barriers have made it difficult for low-income families to access renewable energy, energy efficiency, and weatherization investments, and requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to release a study of these barriers by January 1, 2017. The bill also calls on the commission to “promote greater [energy efficiency] project penetration” in disadvantaged communities that have borne the disproportionate burden of pollution.

A third bill still awaiting the Governor’s action, Assembly Bill 802 (Williams), would expand the state’s energy benchmarking program to cover large multifamily housing. As a result of the bill, owners would gain a clearer picture of how energy is used in their buildings, and could better identify the best energy efficiency and renewable energy investments to increase tenant comfort and lower utility bills. In addition, utility incentives could be directed to the most inefficient buildings.

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