The Biden Administration recently announced new actions, through HUD, to connect families served by HUD programs to solar power and help lower their electricity bills. To help lower the cost of electricity, HUD issued new guidance that will help enable families in HUD-assisted rental housing to subscribe to local community solar where available. With this guidance, HUD is setting the stage for 4.5 million families to reap the benefits of community solar which, on average, can save families 10% per year on their electric bills. In some programs, such as the Washington, DC Solar for All program, savings to households from subscribing to local community solar can reach up to 50% per year. This national guidance builds on recent state-specific guidance that HUD has provided to Illinois, Washington, DC and New York, that determined community-net-metering (CNM) credits would be excluded from household income and utility allowance calculations and therefore not increase housing costs for residents in properties participating in HUD Multifamily, Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance programs. HUD will also launch a new initiative to help small rural housing authorities make money-saving energy efficiency upgrades and retain the savings from those projects to reinvest in improvements to rural HUD supported rental housing.
To view the guidance (also attached), click here.
Additionally, HUD announced that regional offices will convene stakeholders in their regions over the next 90 days to highlight federal funding sources– including funding streams from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and HUD programs such as the HOME Investment Partnerships program and the Community Development Block Grant – that can be used to support public facilities and increase affordable housing supply that improves energy efficiency. These announcements are bolstered by funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs focused on lowering utility costs and reducing energy use such as LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program.
HUD also implemented new statutory changes last year, creating a new energy and water savings incentive program for Small Rural housing authorities. The Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base program enables small rural housing authorities to retain utility cost savings from efficiency or capital investments from conservation measures. Now, HUD is launching an educational campaign and partnership to encourage broader usage of the incentive and help housing authorities partner with Weatherization providers to access low-cost energy efficiency measures. HUD will make public a list of eligible Rural housing authorities, as well as a list of buildings owned or operated by those Housing Authorities that meet the new categorical income eligibility requirements for the Department of Energy Weatherization program. Leading up to the September deadline for new applicants for the Frozen Rolling Base program, HUD will maximize outreach efforts to ensure eligible housing authorities are aware of the savings opportunities.
Read more about the Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base program here and see list of Eligible Public Housing Authorities here. The list of properties meeting income eligibility requirements for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization program is available here.
These announcements are intended to further the Administration’s Justice40 Initiative which commits to delivering at least 40 percent of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, or overburdened by pollution.