February 2023 Newsletter

Home virtual power plant battery energy storage with house photovoltaic solar panels on roof and rechargeable li-ion electricity backup. Electric car charging on renewable smart island off-grid system

ICAST Experts Weigh In: What Virtual Power Plants Can Mean for Multifamily

Nick Grahf | Demand-Side Management Program Manager

Mr. Grahf furthers ICAST’s mission to drive economic, environmental, and social change by designing and implementing demand-side management programs.

ICAST supported a large-scale virtual power plant (VPP) development at the Soleil Lofts property through its implemented Rocky Mountain Power Wattsmart Multifamily Program. These net-zero apartments utilize clean energy and are equipped with 5.3 megawatts of solar and 12.6 megawatts of state-of-the-art battery storage; they are also the country’s largest residential VPP. Multifamily properties with distributed energy resources (DERs) offer an opportunity to partner with customers to achieve a grid reliability alternative that’s green and often cheaper for ratepayers than traditional grid investments. Read more here

Car company Hertz is shifting into high gear on the road to electric vehicles (EVs). Already, it has seen a 12% increase in yearly profits as it accelerates its transition to EVs and lowers costs. Hertz has discovered that EVs are between 50-60% cheaper to maintain than gasoline-powered cars. There are fewer moving parts on EV vehicles than gas-burning cars, which means there are fewer failure points on components that can make for costly replacements. Read more here
Eco friendly battery energy storage system
Form Energy is the company that improved a 140-year-old battery technology to revolutionize energy storage. Its iron-air battery, which is 10 times cheaper than current Li-ion cells, will start production in 2024. A team of researchers at MIT found a way to reverse the corroding process, so the rechargeable iron-air battery development started. The iron was chosen because it is cheap and abundant, making the batteries truly affordable. Read more here
Book of Renters Rights

ICAST Policy Blog
White House Announcements

White House Unveils New and Updated Tenant Protections
On January 25, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new actions to increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing. The announcement includes, but is not limited to, the following items:

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will gather information on unfair housing practices;
  • A "Blueprint for a Renter's Bill of Rights" that, while not binding, sets clear guidelines to help renters stay in affordable housing;
  • A call to action dubbed the "Resident-Centered Housing Challenge" aims to get housing providers as well as state and local governments to strengthen policies in their markets;
    • This Challenge will occur during Spring 2023;
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking requiring public housing authorities and owners of project-based rental assistance properties to provide at least 30 days advanced notice before terminating a lease due to nonpayment of rent.

DOE Issues RFI for its Home Energy Rebate Programs
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) via its Office of State and Community Energy Programs. This request intends to inform the DOE on best practices for the Home Energy Rebate programs to support durable market demand for installations that improve housing energy performance nationwide; responses to this RFI will be used to create program guidance that will assist states, territories, and Indian Tribes in designing, managing, and improving Home Energy Rebate programs. Responses are due by 8:00p EST on March 3, 2023. Read more here

Solar panels renewable energy efficiency money savings

Pursuing Green Projects: How Multifamily Affordable Housing Can Benefit from the IRA and BIL

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) dramatically expand opportunities for multifamily affordable housing to pursue green projects via cash rebates, tax credits, and other incentives. The IRA is by far the largest investment in clean energy we have seen in our lifetime, and a large portion is targeting low-income and thus, multifamily affordable housing. Understanding IRA and BIL regulations is evolving as the Fed issues guidance and legal experts analyze them, but it is certain that these laws represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add value to multifamily affordable housing properties. Read more here.
heat pumps on roof

Update on ICAST’s Program to Deploy Heat Pumps in Multifamily Housing

ICAST is nearing the end of its program to catalyze the mass adoption of very high-efficiency (VHE) heat pump HVAC systems and water heaters in multifamily (MF) housing, especially MF affordable housing (MFAH). It installs thousands of VHE heat pumps in MF and MFAH each year. However, with funding from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Building Technologies Office, it has been conducting real-time monitoring of these solutions at five of its MF sites in various property types and climate zones and comparing them to conventional systems. ICAST installed heat pump HVAC (HP HVAC) at all five sites and installed heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) at one of the sites. There is some work to do before ICAST concludes the program. However, some key findings to date are summarized here.

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