July 20, 2015

Powering a Brighter Future in Public Housing

Photo: Public housing units with solar panels.

In 2013, President Obama put forth the Climate Action Plan and established an ambitious goal of reaching 100MW of on-site renewable energy capacity serving federally subsidized housing projects across the country by 2020.  Last week, the White House announced a series of additional initiatives designed to further increase access to renewable energy and ensure that its benefits reach low and moderate-income communities.  As part of these efforts, HUD is teaming up with the Department of Energy (DOE) to pursue a stretch goal of reaching 300MW of on-site or community-based renewable energy capacity serving federal subsidized housing projects.

Over the past 2 years, HUD’s grantees have led the charge toward the 100MW goal and blown right past it.  To date, nearly 50 grantees, including 17 Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), have made a voluntary pledge to install renewable energy technologies on-site at their properties, exceeding the original 100MW goal.  More than 185MW worth of solar photovoltaic systems, solar thermal systems, geothermal systems, and combined heat & power systems are installed or planned – enough to power over 30,000 homes and counting!

While shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy is key to slowing climate change, it also can be a smart strategy for reducing utility costs, preparing for natural disasters, protecting public health, creating green jobs, and ultimately preserving affordable housing.  Resourceful PHAs are utilizing expanded flexibility under HUD’s Rate Reduction Incentive to retain the utility cost savings generated by installing on-site renewable energy technology and use it to fund energy and water-efficiency improvements in their properties through Energy Performance Contracts.  Some affordable housing providers are looking to solar photovoltaic systems as a reliable source of emergency power, and others are integrating renewable energy projects into their workforce development plans.

Last week, HUD also launched a renewable energy resource web portal, complete with information about the design, policy, and finance of renewable energy projects within each of HUD’s programs.  Those interested in making a voluntary pledge towards the 300 MW goal can do so through this website, and pledge partners will be eligible for technical assistance on a first come, first served basis.

We encourage all of HUD’s affordable housing partners to join us in this goal and recognize the organizations below that have most recently pledged to expand their use of renewable energy to benefit low and moderate-income families.  With their bold leadership, we are powering a brighter future together.

    • Allegheny County Housing Authority, PA
    • Asheville Housing Authority, NC
    • Boulder Housing Authority, CO
    • BRIDGE Housing, CA
    • Cambridge Housing Authority, MA
    • Community Housing Partners, VA
    • Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, OH
    • Fresno Housing Authority, CA
    • East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, CA
    • Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, CA
    • King County Housing Authority, WA
    • Knox County Housing Authority, IL
    • Mercy Housing, Washington, DC
    • Metro West Housing Authority, CO
    • New York City Housing Authority, NY
    • New Bedford Housing Authority, MA
    • Rural Ulster Preservation Corporation, NY
    • San Antonio Housing Authority, TX
    • Tampa Housing Authority, FL
    • The Core Companies, CA
    • Vistula Management Company, OH
    • York Housing Authority, PA

For more information on HUD’s renewable energy goals, please contact Crystal Bergemann at crystal.a.bergemann@hud.gov.  For more information on financing renewable energy projects in public housing, please contact Julia Hustwit at julia.b.hustwit@hud.gov.

Lourdes Castro Ramirez is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public and Indian Housing.

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