Connecticut’s Energy and Transportation Costs are Unaffordable for Many Households, Especially the Most Vulnerable

New report shows gap between what Connecticut families are paying for energy and transportation and what is affordable, creating a cost burden for lower income households

Rocky Hill, CT (Dec. 1, 2020) – According to a recently released report, combined spending on energy, transportation, and housing in Connecticut households exceeds affordable levels in areas throughout the state. On average, these costs are 49% statewide, which is above the 45% threshold for affordability. Low- and moderate-income households are burdened at a higher rate – 68% – than wealthier residents because these costs consume a larger portion of their household income.

These findings are from “Mapping Household Energy and Transportation Affordability in Connecticut,” a study produced by VEIC on behalf of the Connecticut Green Bank and Operation Fuel. The report was partially funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant for research into strategies for improving access to solar for low-income communities. The Connecticut Green Bank, in partnership with the Clean Energy States Alliance, the grant’s managing organization, has been exploring energy’s intersection with other low-income household burdens.

The study focused on spending in three categories: building energy (household heating fuel and electricity); transportation (vehicle fuel, transit costs, and vehicle ownership costs); and housing (total shelter costs, insurance, taxes, fees, etc.). Examining these categories, VEIC was able to determine the cost burden, household spending expressed as a percentage of annual income, and the affordability gap, which is the difference between an affordable level of spending and actual dollars spent.

“We know that Connecticut is among the states with the highest energy costs in the nation. When you combine this expense with high transportation and housing costs, it can be crippling for a low-income household. While over 430,000 households in Connecticut meet the eligibility requirements for energy bill assistance, only 18.7% are served through available funding. We need more comprehensive and sustainable solutions to help low-income families in Connecticut afford their energy costs,” said Brenda Watson, Executive Director of Operation Fuel and member of the Board of Directors of the Green Bank.

Other key findings include:

  • Energy burden is highest among low-income households: 6-7 times higher.
  • High energy burdens are clustered in urban areas such as New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport.
  • The combination of efficiency and solar can help close the building energy affordability gap for most households in the state that own their dwelling, dramatically reducing annual energy costs.
  • Fewer options are available to renting households, although existing programs, like Energize CT’s Home Energy Solutions do substantially reduce building energy burden.
  • While Connecticut has multiple programs available to low-income customers to help them better afford their utility bills, these programs on their own lack sufficient funding to meet all the needs of customers.
  • Transportation costs are high not just in urban centers, but across the entire state
  • Reducing transportation costs is crucial to preserving affordability
  • Inadequate public and shared transport options result in a personal vehicle needed almost everywhere for an acceptable level of mobility

The report sits at the intersection of many current issues brought to the forefront in 2020, including increased energy usage as people are sheltering in place, greater focus on indoor air quality issues, and the way these factors disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income residents.

The report points out that existing resources are not enough to cover energy needs for the most vulnerable. The Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (“CEAP”) provides direct bill assistance to households earning <60% of state median income. The CEAP program budget is approximately $88 million, which is only sufficient to serve roughly 20% of the 430,825 eligible households in the state. Both of the state’s investor-owned utilities also offer matching payment and arrearage forgiveness programs. In 2019 these programs served nearly 19,000 customers but only 58% successfully completed the program.

A bright spot was VEIC’s finding that programs that combine energy efficiency and solar can close the building energy affordability gap for many low- and moderate-income households who are homeowners. Customers that participated in the Solar For All program from PosiGen and the Connecticut Green Bank in 2019 are estimated to have saved an average of $1,315 on their energy costs.

“There are a number of promising, transformative opportunities to reduce energy burdens in Connecticut,” said Justine Sears, Consultant at VEIC. “For instance, working to make the transportation system more equitable and accessible in urban, suburban, and rural areas would significantly reduce transportation burdens for people – especially low-income households.” To address the transportation issues identified in the report, VEIC recommends strategies to minimize the need for and use of private vehicles by increasing public transit, and promoting electric vehicles and e-bikes, which offer fuel savings over gasoline-powered vehicles.

To access the full report, please visit: https://www.ctgreenbank.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Mapping-Household-Energy-and-Transportation-Affordability-Report-Oct-2020.pdf

To join an informational webinar detailing the report on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 1 pm EST, register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6590608348170594317

About the Connecticut Green Bank

The Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2011 as the nation’s first green bank. The Green Bank’s mission is to confront climate change and provide all of society a healthier, more prosperous future by increasing and accelerating the flow of private capital into markets that energize the green economy. This is accomplished by leveraging limited public resources to scale-up and mobilize private capital investment into Connecticut. In 2017, the Connecticut Green Bank received the Innovations in American Government Award from the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and innovation for their “Sparking the Green Bank Movement” entry. For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com

 About Operation Fuel

Operation Fuel was founded in 1977 after a worldwide oil embargo caused an unprecedented escalation in the price of home heating. Although federal and state governments had developed energy assistance programs for families experiencing poverty, low-income working families who were not eligible for government help and in crisis were left out in the cold.

To address the crisis in Connecticut, a collaboration among religious communities, industry leaders in banking, insurance, and utilities, Father Thomas Lynch, and Governor Ella Grasso created Operation Fuel, intended to provide relief for residents who fell through the gaps of government assistance programs. Our mission, is to ensure equitable access to energy for all by providing year-round energy and utility assistance, promoting energy independence, and advocating for affordable energy

About VEIC

VEIC is a sustainable energy company on a mission to generate the energy solutions the world needs. For over 30 years VEIC has been working with governments, utilities, foundations and businesses across North America to develop and deploy clean energy services that provide immediate and lasting change. With expertise in energy efficiency, building and transportation electrification, and new approaches for a clean and flexible grid, VEIC brings innovative solutions to the market. VEIC is nationally recognized for developing pilots and programs that optimize energy use, reduce energy burdens for low-income customers, and advance new technologies. In addition to our full-service consulting business, VEIC administers three large-scale sustainable energy programs: Efficiency Vermont, Efficiency Smart, and the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU). www.veic.org.   

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Heat Pumps Provide Comfort and Improve Air Quality All Year

Low-rate financing combined with increased incentives makes heat pump installation more attractive

Rocky Hill, CT (Sept. 22, 2020) – Did you know that heat pumps are a great way to keep your home cool and enhance your home’s air quality? According to the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) “Air Source Heat Pump Buying Guide,” heat pumps are the best choice when trying to your reduce carbon footprint as well as filtering or dehumidifying air in your home.

Now, with summer’s heat fading and Connecticut residents looking to keep their home’s warm and improve home air quality and filtration, homeowners can address these concerns by taking advantage of heat pump technology and low-rate financing through the Energize CT Smart-E loan. Offered through the Connecticut Green Bank, select local banks and credit unions, and a network of contractors, this special limited-time Smart-E loan offer provides 2.99% financing for 5-, 7- and 10-year terms on new heat pump installations. Standard rate Smart-E Loans (4.49% – 6.99%) can be used to finance energy improvements including solar, windows, heating and cooling and other energy efficiency measures.

“When we design a special Smart-E offer, we have a number of goals in mind,” said Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank. “We want to support state policies to reach environmental targets, and we want consumers to save energy and money. We also want to give our clean energy contractors resources as the green energy economy begins to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This special offer was designed to support Connecticut’s climate change plan which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030, and encourage adoption of energy-efficiency technologies such as air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters to decarbonize buildings.

“People often forget that heat pumps can perform like an air conditioning unit in the warmer months,” said Ryan F. Murphy of Ryan F. Murphy Heating and Cooling LLC in New Milford, one of the Green Bank’s “top performer” Smart-E contractors in recent years. “Heat pumps are typically twice as efficient as window units, and more efficient than conventional central AC also. In colder months, operating costs of heat pumps generally beat homes heated with oil or electric baseboard.”

“Technological advancements in recent years have greatly improved this type of heating and cooling, and we’re currently seeing thousands of cold-climate heat pumps being installed at high rates of customer satisfaction,” said Derek Koundakjian, NEEP Buildings and Technologies Associate. “On top of being highly efficient machines with a lighter carbon footprint, heat pumps effectively filter and dehumidify air, improving air quality and comfort of your home year-round.”

Smart-E borrowers must have an Energize CT Home Energy Solutions (HES) program energy assessment of their home completed to qualify for the loan. Currently, all HES assessments are available to eligible customers at no-cost. The program is also offering up to 100% off approved insulation projects recommended during the assessment.

Learn more about this special offer at https://www.ctgreenbank.com/smarteheatpump

About the Connecticut Green Bank

The Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2011 as the nation’s first green bank. The Green Bank’s mission is to confront climate change and provide all of society a healthier, more prosperous future by increasing and accelerating the flow of private capital into markets that energize the green economy. This is accomplished by leveraging limited public resources to scale-up and mobilize private capital investment into Connecticut. In 2017, the Connecticut Green Bank received the Innovations in American Government Award from the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and innovation for their “Sparking the Green Bank Movement” entry. For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com

About NEEP

NEEP was founded in 1996 as a non-profit whose mission is to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to accelerate regional collaboration to promote advanced energy efficiency and related solutions in home, buildings, industry, and communities. Our vision is that the region’s homes, buildings, and communities are transformed into efficient, affordable, low-carbon resilient places to live, work, and play. For more information about NEEP, please visit www.neep.org

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Solar For All Benefits the Poor

Note: On August 13, 2020, the Hartford Courant ran a Letter to the Editor submitted by Connecticut Green Bank CEO and President Bryan Garcia. The published letter was a shortened version (to fit the Courant’s guidelines); the full version of the letter is below.  


By Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank

Paul Steidler’s July 26, 2020 article “Rush to Renewable Energy Hurts Poor” tries to make the point that America’s expanded use of natural gas will not only benefit our economy and the environment, but also help those who are less fortunate.  He notes that renewable energy is among the reasons why residential electricity is 66% more expensive in New England than the rest of the country.

In Connecticut, low-to-moderate income families and communities of color are reducing the burden of their energy costs not by consuming more natural gas, but by installing solar on their rooftops and making their homes more energy efficient. The energy affordability gap for our most vulnerable citizens is about $1,400 per year, which means that the poor are paying more for energy in our state than what is affordable.  Through state efforts in partnership with the private sector, it is solar power and energy efficiency that are reducing that affordability gap by nearly $1,100 per year not natural gas.  Our state is a “parity state” when it comes to income and “beyond parity state” when it comes to race in terms of solar deployment – meaning the poor and communities of color are demanding solar power and energy efficiency more than those with means and who are White.

Nearly a year ago to the day, Hartford experienced some of the hottest weather on record.  The weather was so hot and humid that state officials warned people about two problems – excessive heat and bad air.  This resulted in higher air conditioning usage stressing the electricity grid, resulting in ISO-NE calling upon higher-cost and higher-polluting power that came from fossil fuels.  These fossil fuel power plants emit pollutants that react with sunlight to create smog which contributes to poor air quality and is harmful to public health.  At the same time, across the Constitution State, there were nearly 28,000 homes powered by the sun that were providing 230 MW of power output during peak times. This reduced $3 million of peak demand costs which lowered energy costs for all electric ratepayers. It also removed the need for more power generation from burning fossil fuels thereby cleaning the air we all breathe.

Air pollution is not good for our public health – and it is especially detrimental when you have a disease that targets the respiratory system such as COVID-19.  We are seeing more clearly today than ever before, how pollution from fossil fuel resources creates a disproportionate share of the negative environmental impacts on the public health within communities of color.  Call it environmental justice or climate justice, natural gas and its infrastructure aren’t good for the poor! 

Right now, Connecticut is in the process of modernizing and decarbonizing its antiquated energy system into a 21st century clean energy platform that will continue to enable the growth of our green economy.  By combining renewable energy resources like the sun, with energy efficiency, battery storage, and demand response, we are working towards a zero-carbon electricity grid that will fuel zero emission vehicles for our roads and power carbon-free renewable heating and cooling systems for our homes.

During this pandemic, we are all experiencing tough economic times, but everyone can be part of the solution. Schedule a home energy audit (no-cost). Insulate your home to make it more energy efficient (rebates up to 100 percent available). Install solar on your roof (it’s affordable).  Solar for all, benefits all of us, especially the poor!

Financial partnership expands energy-efficiency loan pool for Connecticut homeowners

Capital for Change, Amalgamated Bank, Connecticut Green Bank team up to boost successful loan program

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (May 8, 2020) – An innovative collaboration among three financial entities has set the stage for more Connecticut homeowners to gain access to energy-efficiency loans while reducing costs up to 20 percent for many utility ratepayers.

The collaboration is among Capital for Change Inc., Connecticut’s largest full-service, nonprofit community development financial institution; Amalgamated Bank; and the Connecticut Green Bank.

“This new financial model is one of the few – if not the only – such arrangements in the United States helping to boost the growth of unsecured loans supporting consumer energy-efficiency and solar loans,” said Bert Hunter, Chief Investment Officer and Executive Vice President at the Green Bank.

“The model has proven to be a unique means of maximizing the leverage of ratepayer capital in achieving the state’s energy goals,” Hunter said.

“We’re deeply pleased to participate in what we believe is a new financial model for positive community development,” said Calvin B. Vinal, President and CEO of Capital for Change Inc., Connecticut’s largest full-service, nonprofit community development financial institution.

“This will allow us to make more funds available for energy-efficient and solar housing improvements in Connecticut,” Vinal said. “Participating utility ratepayers will see savings on their energy bills of 10 to 20 percent, depending on the energy measures installed and fuel source.”

“We are proud to join the Connecticut Green Bank and Capital for Change Inc. in providing energy efficiency loans to Connecticut residents,” said Keith Mestrich, president and CEO of Amalgamated Bank.

“As America’s socially responsible bank, we believe that our deposits can be used for creating a more sustainable planet and this collaboration affords us an opportunity to expand our impact,” Mestrich said.

The partnership has made available a $27 million line of credit for the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Finance Company (CEEFCo) leveraged by CEEFCo’s ratepayer funding and unsecured loan portfolio, allowing CEEFCo’s portfolio to grow to $36 million. CEEFCo is a nonprofit subsidiary of Capital for Change.

The new model allows CEEFCo to continue to grow its loan portfolio while minimizing the need for additional ratepayer capital, Hunter and Vinal said.

Financing arrangements closed in late December 2019 and took effect in February, Vinal said. At CEEFCo’s inception in 2011, initial funding was provided through legislative mandate by Connecticut energy utility Eversource, using approximately $17 million collected from ratepayers over 10 years. 

With $12.1 million of this capitalization remaining, ratepayer funding has leveraged production of 6,000 loans for $51 million of capital funding at a cost of $5 million. In the past several years, this portfolio of unsecured loans went from $12 million to $24 million, and their earlier financial partner stopped lending.

“We required a different financing model to accommodate the need, which the Green Bank understood and so introduced us to Amalgamated Bank,” said Vinal.

“We’re extremely grateful that Amalgamated appreciates the quality of our portfolio and the impact we’re having on households throughout Connecticut, and that the Green Bank responded with its own support to make it work,” Vinal said.

“In the past several years, our portfolio of unsecured loans went from $12 million to $24 million, and our earlier financial partner stopped lending,” Vinal said. “We required a different financing model to accommodate the need, which the Greenbank understood and so introduced us to Amalgamated Bank.

Amalgamated is providing $22.5 million of funding and the Connecticut Green Bank $4.5 million, with the funding secured only by CEEFCo’s assets.

“This model has proven to be a unique means of maximizing the leverage of ratepayer capital in achieving the state’s energy goals,” Vinal said.

“It’s a great collaboration with financing institutions that support community development and energy sustainability,” Vinal said. “It provides us the liquidity needed to continue to grow that portfolio and provide Connecticut residents more opportunities to save on their energy costs.”

The concept also has broad positive implications for the state’s economy, he said.

“Nationwide, the energy sector is providing jobs in numbers that are similar to those in the automotive industry, led by solar and energy efficiency,” Vinal said. “By promoting energy efficiency, proactive financial models such as this one are helping to improve the environment, create local jobs and save homeowners money.  ”

An extensive resource focusing on energy efficiency in Connecticut – including loan options – is maintained by the utility partnership Energize Connecticut at its website, EnergizeCT.com.

Learn more about Capital for Change at https://www.capitalforchange.org/ and more about Amalgamated Bank can be found at  AmalgamatedBank.com.

COVID-19 Update

Dear Value Stakeholders:
In this challenging, rapidly-changing time, we wanted to again assure you that the Green Bank is doing its best to support the essential contractors, communities, customers and capital providers that we do business with, and our teams are available to answer questions, provide information, manage transactions, and participate in remote meetings and calls. 

We expect to continue to operate remotely through April 22, 2020, in line with Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7H, and until further notice.  We would advise all of our Connecticut-based stakeholders to remain updated on COVID-19 through the Office of Governor Lamont as well as the official COVID-19 state website.

We will continue to follow Governor Lamont’s instructions during this pandemic.

Also, in order to assist our heroic public health workers during this period of time, we wanted to see if any contractors have any Personal Protective Equipment (e.g., N95 respirators, face and surgical masks, face shields, gloves, protective clothing, etc.).  There are shortages of PPE, which can protect our public health workers who are providing healthcare during this COVID-19 epidemic.  If you can help, please do so (click here).   

We continue to assess the Connecticut market and beyond to better understand and anticipate potential impact, problems and solutions, as we all manage through the COVID-19 situation. We remain committed to strengthening our communities by supporting your businesses that are critical to making the benefits of the green economy inclusive and accessible to all individuals, families, and organizations.

Our stakeholders, including essential contractors, customers, and capital providers, may receive emails dealing with specific programmatic details shortly from specific Green Bank teams with whom you work directly.

In the meantime, remember that we can work through this together in the days ahead. Feel free to reach out with any questions or contact your Green Bank program teams (see email addresses below).
 
Thank you,

Bryan Garcia
President & CEO, Connecticut Green Bank


Green Bank program email addresses:

Smart-E Loan Top Performers for 2019 Honored

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, the 18 Smart-E Loan “Top Performers” of 2019 were honored at the Connecticut Green Bank in Rocky Hill. These 18 contractors are headquartered and serve customers across the state, from New Milford to North Stonington and South Windsor to Stratford, and include HVAC, home performance and solar-focused companies. In 2019, the Top Performers helped over 300 Connecticut families make home energy improvements – allowing them to save money, reduce their carbon footprint, and live more comfortably in their homes.

In partnership with nine participating local lenders, the Top Performers’ projects equaled $4.1 million in closed Smart-E Loans. Financed projects include insulation and window upgrades, solar, high efficiency heating and cooling solutions, and more; all helping the state of Connecticut work towards meeting its climate change plan, which focuses on three mitigation wedges: decarbonizing electricity generation, decarbonizing transportation, and decarbonizing buildings.

Out of more than 400 contractors who participate in the program, the Smart-E Loan Top Performers were chosen based on criteria including more than just closed loans (though each had many!). The contractors scheduled in-person Smart-E training for their staff, used Smart-E marketing materials, developed partnerships with Smart-E lenders, and avoided inspection issues. These 18 contractors embraced the Smart-E Loan in 2019, utilizing the flexibility of the product to best serve their customers across the state.

The 2019 Top Performers (in alphabetical order)

Connecticut Green Bank offers financing for remediation of health and safety issues that prevent energy upgrades

Single and multifamily properties can benefit from low interest rate loans to remove mold, asbestos and other issues

 

Rocky Hill, CT (Nov. 21, 2019) – In Connecticut, 58% of the housing stock was built prior to 1969, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities, and this older housing stock can often present problems to home owners and residents. Along with structural and code violations from possible deferred maintenance over time, there is potential for the presence of health and safety issues, like mold and asbestos. The existence of these hazards can also make energy assessments, and related efficiency improvements, impossible. To help implement home energy upgrades and remediate health and safety problems, the Connecticut Green Bank and its partners are offering special low interest rate financing solutions for single- and multi-family homeowners.

For owner-occupied 1-4 family properties, the Smart-E Loan program now allows asbestos and mold remediation to be financed in full (up to $25,000) when completed with an Energize CT Home Energy Solutions (HES) program assessment or other energy-related improvements.

“Mold or asbestos in a home prevents blower door guided air sealing, which is an important part of the HES program,” said Lorenzo Wyatt, owner of Home Comfort Practice. “If we can’t complete this part of the assessment, home owners can’t access the full benefits of efficiency improvements, not to mention the obvious negative health implications.”

Administered by the Green Bank in partnership with nine local lenders (community banks, credit unions and a community development financial institution), the Smart-E Loan offers long-term, low-cost financing for more than 40 qualifying energy improvements. A network of over 500 eligible local contractors completes these upgrades, including insulation, windows, efficient heating and cooling, electric vehicle home charging stations, and solar systems.

“We heard concerns from contractors who are often unable to complete home energy assessments and make recommendations for more comprehensive energy efficiency improvements because of mold or asbestos, especially in low-to-moderate income households,” said Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Green Bank. “We understand that to provide all of society with a healthier, more prosperous future through the green economy, our financing programs must address these critical issues.”

Smart-E Loan terms range from 5-20 years, with associated not-to-exceed rates fixed between 4.49% – 6.99%. Loan amounts range from $500 – $40,000, though several of the participating community banks do not lend over $25,000. Through June 30, 2019, participating Smart-E Lenders closed 4,266 loans for $65.4 million in financed projects.

For multifamily property owners, particularly those serving low- and moderate-income residents, the Green Bank offers the Energize CT Health and Safety Revolving Loan Fund. This loan was designed to address a wide range of health and safety issues, including mold, asbestos, lead, knob-and-tube wiring, radon, and leaky roofs, that block the way to full energy improvements.

Created thanks to $1.5 million of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) dollars from the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Green Bank has already financed projects with these funds. One example is Success Village, a 924-unit housing co-operative in Bridgeport and Stratford. The $165,000 loan will cover a phase one pilot that includes asbestos removal from piping on the central heating system which was installed in the 1960s. Completion of the pilot will inform design, engineering and implementation of health and safety and energy upgrades for the full property.

“We are seeing significant energy, maintenance and other cost savings on properties that replace old, inefficient HVAC equipment, weatherize building envelopes or add solar,” said Kim Stevenson, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Inclusive Prosperity Capital, the non-profit that manages the Multifamily Program on behalf of the Green Bank. “These savings also improve the living environment for residents and improve property values.  We strongly encourage owners to evaluate their buildings for missed savings opportunities.” 

The Energize CT Health and Safety Loan fund offers financing of $10,000 to $300,000 (waivers for larger loans are possible) with terms up to 20 years at 2.99%.

To learn more about these loans, visit https://www.ctgreenbank.com/smartehealthsafety/ and https://www.ctgreenbank.com/programs/multifamily/energizect-health-safety-loan/.

Clean Energy States Alliance Launches Major Initiative to Advance Solar in Under-Resourced Communities

US Department of Energy Funds CESA’s Efforts to Scale Up Solar for Low-and Moderate-Income Households

Montpelier, VT (October 3, 2019) – The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) will lead a wide-ranging initiative to accelerate the development of solar projects that benefit low-and-moderate-income (LMI) households and communities. The “Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project” is being supported by a three-year funding award of $1.1 million from the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

The project team will focus on three distinct subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily affordable housing.

For the single-family homes component of the initiative, CESA will work with Connecticut Green Bank, Inclusive Prosperity Capital, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and PosiGen Solar to evaluate and promote a successful initiative that has brought solar to more than 2,500 Connecticut single-family homes, most of which are LMI. State agencies from across the country will be given the opportunity to join a working group where they will receive technical assistance and other support to consider adopting similar programs for their states.

For manufactured homes, CESA, with assistance from representatives of the New Mexico Energy Conservation and Management Division, will examine the potential for using solar to power manufactured homes in different states, based on their housing stock, solar policies, geography, and the applicability of different possible technologies. State government agencies, rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, and other stakeholders will be encouraged to join a learning network to explore the potential for launching a pilot project or program for manufactured homes.

The multifamily affordable housing component of the project will build on work carried out by Clean Energy Group (CEG) in conjunction with the Kresge Foundation. CEG and CESA will work with housing developers/owners and community development lenders to replicate and expand loan guarantee and other foundation program-related investment (PRI) models for solar and solar plus battery storage (solar+storage) projects for multifamily affordable housing. Principal objectives will be to increase community resilience and reduce energy costs for low-income households.

CESA has worked actively on LMI solar more than five years. CESA Executive Director Warren Leon remarks that: “CESA is committed to helping state governments and other stakeholders implement solar in ways that provide meaningful benefits to under-resourced communities. The new grant from the US DOE solar office will enable us to significantly expand our outreach and assistance.”

To carry out the new initiative and other work CESA is engaged in related to solar for LMI communities, two talented individuals with strong experience working on this topic have been added to the CESA staff.

CESA Project Director Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a well-known environmental justice advocate, climate change expert, and sea-level researcher. A Guatemalan immigrant, she has worked to address the disproportionate impacts of climate change on under-resourced communities across the US. For the past year, she has been a consultant to the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, working primarily with community groups on LMI solar. She was a climate science and community advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists and assistant director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, among other positions. She was recently recognized by NBC as one of the #NBCLatino20

Laura Schieb, CESA project associate, earned a JD at Vermont Law School, as well as an LLM in Energy Law with a Certificate in Climate Law. While at the law school, she was employed as a Global Energy Law Fellow, implementing projects at the Energy Law Clinic, including leading a team preparing a report on low-income solar ownership in Vermont.

To learn about or to sign up for updates about the new Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project, go to www.cesa.org/projects/low-income-clean-energy/scaling-up-lmi-solar/.

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About the Clean Energy States Alliance 
The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is a national nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations working together to advance clean energy. CESA members—mostly state agencies—include many of the most innovative, successful, and influential public funders of clean energy initiatives in the country. CESA facilitates information sharing, provides technical assistance, coordinates multi-state collaborative projects, and communicates the achievements of its members. For more information, visit www.cesa.org.

About the Solar Energy Technologies Office
The US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.

For more information, contact: Nate Hausman, Project Director, Clean Energy States Alliance, nate@cleanegroup.org

Ph: 802-223-2554 x206

Hartford Habitat for Humanity Completes Zero Energy Ready Home

Local non-profit celebrates 30th anniversary by building Habitat’s first Zero Energy Ready home in state

 

HARTFORD, Conn., June 1, 2019 The Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity (HAHFH) and partners Eversource, Home Energy Technologies, Posigen and Connecticut Green Bank recently celebrated the construction of Habitat’s first Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH), located at 153 Roosevelt in South Hartford.

Unveiled during a dedication ceremony on May 31, the Roosevelt home is built to Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home standards, and is so energy efficient it can offset all or most of its energy consumption.

The Walton Family receiving keys to their new zero energy home.

“Since 2002, we have built ENERGY STAR standard homes. For Hartford Habitat’s 30th anniversary, we wanted to build a high-performance, sustainable home that would decrease the burden of homeownership and make it more affordable for our clients,” said Hartford Habitat Executive Director Karraine Moody. “Thanks to Eversource’s energy efficiency expertise, our volunteers and other partners, we achieved our goal of creating a more affordable housing option for the Hartford community, and be the first Habitat organization in Connecticut to build a Zero Energy Ready Home.”

“We are thrilled that Hartford is home to Connecticut’s first Zero Energy Ready Home by Habitat,” said Mayor Luke Bronin. “Habitat for Humanity changes lives and lifts up communities by expanding home ownership opportunities, and combining that mission with cutting-edge green building and sustainability efforts is really powerful.”

“Home ownership has a lasting impact on families, and ensuring that it is affordable is critical to building stronger communities,” said Eversource Vice President of Energy Efficiency Tilak Subrahmanian. “At Eversource, we take pride in building modern, sustainable housing, and because of Habitat’s commitment, we were able to advance the zero energy housing movement into Hartford’s affordable housing sector. It’s partnerships like these that will help us lower emissions and achieve a clean-energy future.”

“We are very proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity to build a Net-Zero home,” said Tom Neyhart, PosiGen CEO. “Until now, most people believed that Net-Zero Construction was only for the affluent.  At PosiGen, we believe we can only achieve true change if all families, no matter what their economic status is, are included. Solar for All is PosiGen’s mission and we believe this partnership with Habitat for Humanity is a huge step in the right direction!

To achieve the ZERH designation, the Roosevelt home had to achieve several criteria, such as optimal thermal protection, whole house water protection, high-performance heating and cooling, high-efficiency components, comprehensive indoor air quality, and solar ready construction.

The 1,200 square foot, three-bedroom home features ENERGY STAR-certified appliances, low-flow fixtures, a heat pump hot water heater, air tight construction and solar panels. It also achieved a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of –15, which is the industry standard for measuring a home’s energy efficiency. As a ZERH, the Roosevelt home will be at least 40-50 percent more energy efficient than a typical new home, leaving the homeowners with a net zero energy bill, and a carbon free-home. 

 

Connecticut Green Bank Accelerates Adoption of Solar Energy in Communities of Color

Download the report here.

RSIP and Solar for All Programs Lead to Parity in Solar Installations Across Communities of Color and White Neighborhoods

Rocky Hill, CT (May 20, 2019) — Connecticut is bucking a national trend of disparity when it comes to solar adoption among communities of color, according to figures released today by the Connecticut Green Bank. The rise is due to Green Bank’s successful efforts to make solar energy more accessible and affordable for homeowners in communities of color and low-to-moderate income (LMI) households by intentionally engaging these traditionally underserved communities.

Many homeowners are installing rooftop solar photovoltaic systems to save money on energy costs while generating clean, renewable energy. Although the number of rooftop solar installations in the U.S. has increased more than 50% per year for the past seven years, in many states, communities of color have not participated in this rapid adoption of solar. A 2019 Tufts University study found that majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have installed less rooftop solar compared to neighborhoods with No Majority race by 61% and 45%, respectively, while majority White neighborhoods installed 37% more.

In 2012, the Green Bank launched the Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP) to make rooftop solar installations more affordable by providing Connecticut homeowners with rebates and performance-based incentives (PBI) designed to lower initial out-of-pocket costs. Overall, RSIP has helped more than 30,000 households to date add solar as it continues to quickly approach its current 300MW program allocation.

In 2015, the Green Bank and its Board of Directors addressed an observed income disparity in solar adoption by adding special incentives for low and moderate income households to the residential solar program, which quickly accelerated solar adoption in low and moderate income communities. Recent analysis shows that this has also been extremely successful in reaching communities of color in the state. Today, on a per owner-occupied household basis, there are 86% more RSIP installations in majority Black neighborhoods, 18% more in majority Hispanic neighborhoods, and 20% more in No Majority race neighborhoods as compared to majority White neighborhoods.

A primary driver of democratized access to solar energy in the state has been the Green Bank’s Solar for All program. In 2015, at the same time Green Bank established its LMI incentive, the organization  released a request for proposals seeking contractors to help reach underserved markets. This RFP resulted in a partnership with solar provider PosiGen and the creation of the Solar for All program. Solar for All leverages Green Bank’s elevated incentive to offer LMI homeowners a solar lease paired with energy efficiency upgrades customized for each home including air sealing, LED light bulbs, pipe wrap and programmable thermostats. These measures are in addition to the energy efficiency measures that are installed as part of the state’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program.

PosiGen’s Solar for All program has been even more successful than the overall RSIP program in reaching communities of color. PosiGen has more projects per home in majority Black (1275%), Hispanic (408%) and No Majority race (427%) neighborhoods than in majority White neighborhoods.

“In 2015, when we realized that all homeowners in Connecticut did not have access to the benefits of the clean energy economy, our mission compelled us to act. This study confirms that the response to our programs in underserved communities of color has been even more positive than we anticipated,” said Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of Green Bank. “Today, there are still significant opportunities for residential solar growth in owner-occupied homes across the state, and we are committed to working with partners like PosiGen to continue to make green energy available and affordable for all Connecticut neighborhoods.”

“The Solar for All program has been an astounding success in Connecticut, closing the clean energy affordability gap and increasing solar adoption by more than 187% in LMI communities,” said Thomas Neyhart, CEO of PosiGen. “With the help of the Green Bank, the state is also leading the way in bringing cost-savings and energy independence to households in communities of color.”

To access the full report, “Sharing Solar Benefits: Reaching Households in Underserved Communities of Color in Connecticut,” please visit: https://www.ctgreenbank.com/sharing-solar-benefits-may2019/

 

About the Connecticut Green Bank

The Connecticut Green Bank (formerly the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority) was established by the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011, as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. The Green Bank’s success in accelerating private investment in clean energy is helping Connecticut create jobs, increase economic prosperity, promote energy security and address climate change. In 2017, the Connecticut Green Bank received the Innovations in American Government Award from the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and innovation for their “Sparking the Green Bank Movement” entry. For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com.

 

About PosiGen

Headquartered in New Orleans, LA, PosiGen is one of the nation’s leading residential solar, energy efficiency and energy education providers for low-to-moderate income families. PosiGen has more than 14,000 residential customers, over 220 direct employees and supports more than 120 employees through its contractors in LouisianaConnecticutNew Jersey and Florida. PosiGen’s unique services and products make solar energy affordable to homeowners of all income levels, and offer individuals, families and businesses the opportunity to achieve greater fiscal autonomy and energy independence lowering their utility bills. To learn everything about PosiGen, please visit www.posigen.com.