November 2023 Newsletter
ICAST Experts Weigh In: 2023 State Legislative Wrap-Up and Looking Ahead to 2024
By Kristen Cheriegate: Senior Policy Analyst | Ms. Cheriegate navigates ICAST through the policy world to obtain real-world solutions, funding resources, and networks with potential partners to provide more services to low- and moderate-income households.
State legislatures are gearing up to pre-file bills for the 2024 season, but before we close the books on 2023, we wanted to provide some key updates from this year’s state legislative season. We’ll start with numeric highlights, compiled by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, concerning policy trends and passed bills:
· Utilities and the Grid:
- At least 28 states introduced 99 bills to modernize utilities and the energy grid for the renewable energy transition. A total of 13 bills were enacted across 10 states, including Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington.
· Electric Vehicles
- At least 40 states and territories considered over 259 bills related to the deployment of electric and zero-emission vehicles. A total of 31 bills were enacted across 15 states, including Illinois, Maryland, and New York.
· Building Decarbonization
- At least 27 states introduced 157 building decarbonization bills. A total of 16 bills were enacted across 10 states, including Colorado, Maine, Maryland, and Vermont.
· Workforce and Energy Transition
- At least 24 states and territories introduced 138 pieces of legislation supporting a just energy transition. A total of 15 bills were enacted across seven states and territories, including Colorado, New Hampshire, and Washington.
Additionally, affordable housing and disadvantaged communities across the nation saw wins in energy, environment, and housing. Read more here
Underground and out of sight, the newest piece of Chicago's energy infrastructure is pushing kilowatts through one of the city's historic neighborhoods.
A microgrid, a smaller version of the city's electrical power grid, will be in full service in the iconic South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville by the end of this year.
The project, designed to generate self-sustaining power for an urban neighborhood and cluster with other microgrids, is the first of its kind in the US. Read more here
The EU will ban sweeping environmental claims such as “climate neutral” or “eco” by 2026 unless companies can prove the claim is accurate, as the bloc cracks down on greenwashing of consumer products.
The rules, agreed late Tuesday, will also outlaw claims based on emissions offsetting — often used as the basis for assertions that products are carbon neutral or have reduced environmental impact — along with green labels that are not from approved sustainability schemes.
The change, due to come into force by 2026, would make the EU the toughest region of the world in terms of its approach to green claims made to the public. Read more here
ICAST Policy Blog
White House Takes Action to Create More Affordable Housing
The Biden-Harris Administration has released a fact sheet that highlights new actions to support the conversion of high-vacancy commercial buildings to residential use, including through new financing, technical assistance, and the sale of federal properties – creating much-needed housing that is affordable, energy-efficient, near transit and good jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly 30 percent of which comes from the building sector. The fact sheet incorporates a multi-sector approach, including deeper work with States, Localities, and the private sector; leveraging federal funding to encourage conversions; and sparking investment through new federal funding and repurposing of property.
Environmental Protection Agency Updates Solar for All Funding
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated the Solar for All (SFA) Notice of Funding Opportunity. The interested applicants requested over $38 billion in funding from the SFA competition. To maximize access to solar energy for low-income (LI) and disadvantaged communities, EPA has revised the maximum award amount an applicant may request. They have also extended the application deadline to October 12, 2023, for applicants to adjust their applicants. The different sized programs and award ranges depend on the total population of disadvantaged census tracts identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) in the program geography.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Grants for Electric Grid Modernization
Under President Biden's Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced in the 7th round of funding nine states and five tribal nations will receive a combined total of $125 million in the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants. Read more here
Ravi Malhotra, NH&RA, November 2023
Federal agencies have steadily made progress in rolling out the new funds from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Multifamily property owners can fold these dollars into capital stacks for projects that incorporate solar and storage, heat pump HVAC and hot water, health and safety measures, electric vehicle (EV) charging and other green upgrades – all at minimal cost to them. See Case Study IRA, BIL Bringing Big Pots of Money to Green Affordable Housing.
Recent agency updates relevant to multifamily affordable housing:
· The IRS finally released the rules around qualifying for bonus Investment Tax Credits (ITC) for solar PV and storage and is accepting applications for the allocation of the bonus ITC through November 18.
· The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently commenced making awards under the Green and Resilient Retrofit Program and has three more rounds of applications until mid-2024.
· The Environmental Protection Agency concluded application periods for the three Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund program opportunities totaling $27 billion.
· The Department of Energy (DOE) opened state energy offices’ (SEOs) application window for the approximate $9 billion Home Energy Rebate programs. (There is still time for the multifamily affordable housing industry to influence SEOs’ program designs to ensure the industry benefits from these programs.) Read more here
ICAST Team Members Attend NASEO Annual Meeting
In October, ICAST sent three representatives—CEO Ravi Malhotra, Director of Grant Programs Ryan Kristoff, and Senior Policy Analyst Kristen Cheriegate—to the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon. During this event, our team engaged with State Energy Office officials from various states, delving into crucial topics such as emerging EPA initiatives like Solar for All, upcoming funding prospects for affordable housing and low-income communities, and DOE programs such as the Home Energy Rebate Program.
ICAST staff learned about a number of incredible best practices from federal officials, with speakers including but not limited to:
· Dr. Carolyn Snyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Buildings and Industry, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
· Dr. Henry McKoy, Director, Office of State and Community Energy Programs, U.S. Department of Energy
· Karen Zelmar, Home Energy Rebates Program Manager, Office of State and Community Energy Programs, U.S. Department of Energy
· Jaime Jackson, Senior Advisor, Rural Utility Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
· Brittany Stitch, Senior Advisor, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor
If Timed Right, Financial “Braiding” Techniques May Cover Whole Cost of Retrofits
There’s a brave new world of opportunities for “green” multifamily affordable housing renovation and development coming with the ever-quickening ascendancy of green buildings. This is according to one of the early adopters of clean energy solutions in multifamily, Ravi Malhotra—founder and president of ICAST. New pots of money enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) can bring in enough funding through “braiding” techniques to reduce or even eliminate the need for hard debt, says Malhotra. Developers may even be able to forego the ubiquitous deferred developer fees they use to make so many projects pencil.
This green way of financing affordable housing, while different from the old models of developing affordable multifamily, isn’t totally different from the old ways. Read more here
ICAST Sets New Record for Its Heat Pump Work with Rocky Mountain Power
ICAST is pleased to announce that in the month of September, it processed over 1,000 multifamily heat pump rebates for Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), thus setting a new monthly record. ICAST has managed RMP’s custom multifamily program in Utah since its launch in 2018, and this program is one of the nation’s most successful for electrification in multifamily properties. It covers the entire multifamily market and focuses on holistic, deep energy savings, paying incentives tied directly to energy savings and offering greater incentives for heat pump installs.
This is an exciting time to deliver these kinds of results. The International Energy Agency has described heat pumps as “the central technology in the global transition to secure and sustainable heating,” and noted that particular attention needs to be paid to increasing heat pump deployment in multifamily and commercial buildings. Read more here
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