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CPUC Adopts Recommendations to Facilitate Energy-Efficiency Improvements for Affordable Rental Housing

On August 14, 2014 the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously adopted several key recommendations in their final decision that will enable greater utilization by multifamily buildings in the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program for the upcoming 2015-2017 program cycle. Funded by investor-owned utilities (IOUs), ESA is an assistance program providing over $1 billion annually for certain energy-saving improvements in dwelling units occupied by low-income consumers. The key recommendations adopted include: (1) allowing an IOU to treat the entire multifamily building as eligible if at least 80% of the units are income-qualified under the ESA program, (2) not counting housing subsidies as income, and (3) requiring IOUs to propose expedited enrollment for HUD-assisted buildings where at least 80% of the tenants have incomes at or below 200% of federal poverty level. (p. 62-63). The decision further directs IOUs to propose cost-effective measures in multifamily buildings including common area measures and central heating, cooling, and hot water systems. (p. 64). To increase program utilization in multifamily rental housing, the decision also requires IOUs to work directly with building owners, establish a single point of contact and take steps to increase coordination among low-income energy assistance programs. During this proceeding, NHLP closely collaborated with California Housing Partnership, National Consumer Law Center, and Natural Resources Defense Council.

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