State leaders are looking for funding sources for remediation work that needs to happen before many energy efficiency upgrades can be completed.
Lorenzo Wyatt owns a Connecticut energy-efficiency contracting business focused almost exclusively on low-income residents — about 80% of his customers are eligible for no-cost energy savings services through the state’s residential efficiency programs.
But nearly a third of those customers are not able to weatherize their houses or apartments, and lose out on energy savings. That’s because mold, asbestos, and other health hazards discovered in their homes must be cleaned up before contractors can safely seal the space, an undertaking that easily runs into the thousands of dollars.
Those costs are not covered by the state’s efficiency programs. And very few of Wyatt’s customers can afford to pay themselves.
It’s a difficult problem that has hampered the state’s residential energy efficiency programs for years and prevents the most money-strapped households from obtaining services that could significantly reduce their energy bills.
The barriers make it nearly impossible for the utilities to reach the weatherization target set by legislation: weatherize 80% of Connecticut residences by 2030.
To date, little has been done to deal with the barriers in any sustained way. But that may be changing. Last month, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which oversees the ratepayer-funded efficiency programs, opened a proceeding on equitable energy efficiency. On the agenda is an exploration of funding sources for remediating health and safety barriers.
And on November 18, DEEP and the board that advises the state’s efficiency programs will co-host a workshop on weatherization barriers and possible resources for dealing with them.
“It’s very important to me that we change how we deal with these households that are not being served,” said Amy McLean, chair of the board’s residential subcommittee and Connecticut director at the Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy organization. “We’re going to bring together stakeholders from all the different areas that serve residential customers — energy, housing, health — and identify some pots of money that are used separately that we might coordinate with.”
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