Program Plug-in: Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Families and Tenants

Program Plug-in: Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Families and Tenants

MCE’s Program Plug-in series takes a deep dive into offerings available to MCE customers and how you can plug in to energy savings, bill relief, resiliency, safety upgrades, electric vehicles, and more.

In 2018, MCE launched our Low-Income Families and Tenants (LIFT) Pilot Program to reduce the energy burden and improve the quality of life for residents in income-qualified multifamily properties. The program offers energy efficiency, electrification, and upgrades for health, safety, and comfort through rate-payer funding from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The first phase of the pilot ended on May 31, 2021, after distributing over $1 million in incentives to program participants.

The 680 qualifying households received upgrades such as switching natural gas and propane heating equipment to high-efficiency electric heat pumps. Participants saved over 7,800 kilowatt-hours and decarbonized energy loads from space and water heating. MCE has received additional CPUC funding to continue the pilot through 2023 and expects to serve more than 450 additional households. MCE LIFT program also received the 2022 Spare the Air Leadership Award. This award, presented by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Acterra, recognizes MCE’s LIFT program for “designing a program that targeted energy usage reductions, improved indoor air quality and is a replicable blueprint for other grant programs throughout the Bay Area.”

"Put simply, the [Healthy Homes] and MCE programs (LIFT and Multifamily Energy Savings) made it possible for the San Geronimo Valley Affordable Housing Association to do critical repairs to the Sage Lane buildings and convert the properties to clean, all-electric energy. An MCE rebate allowed us to install 20 kilowatts of solar generation to eliminate the use of propane. Other rebates helped replace gas stoves, gas dryers, gas water heaters, and gas furnaces with all electric appliances. And we are now working with MCE to install electric storage capacity. MCE made these things possible [resulting in] very significant utility cost savings that we can use for long-term maintenance.” - Project Manager for the San Geronimo Valley Affordable Housing Association

MCE developed the LIFT Program to address large gaps in the energy efficiency market for income-qualified multifamily property owners and tenants. Residents of income-qualified multifamily housing face multiple barriers to participating in energy efficiency programs, including lack of control over any significant upgrades made to their units, concerns about sharing personal information, immigration enforcement actions, and financial constraints.

“It was just a really good opportunity to update our older units. We are in a time of growth, and it is a nice message to the community that you are updating. [We] want to show [that] we are good at property management. And just the savings over time, more comfort to the tenants, and the program itself … is hard to say no to with such a generous incentive.” – LIFT Program participant

The LIFT Program can be paired with MCE’s Multifamily Energy Savings (MFES) Program for additional rebates and incentives on energy saving measures for income-qualified residents. The MFES program provides multifamily property owners with rebates as well as free comprehensive assessments and technical assistance for energy and water-saving measures.

LIFT participants can receive:

  • $1,200 per qualifying unit for energy efficiency upgrades
  • Up to $6,000 per HVAC or water heating heat pump unit plus additional funding for electrical upgrades
  • No cost direct install measures for tenant units
  • Free technical assistance, no cost assessment and support for bid solicitation and scope development
  • Additional common area rebates through the Multifamily Energy Savings Program

 

To be eligible for LIFT, the multifamily property must:

  • Be located in MCE’s service area
  • Have 5 or more units
  • Be affordable housing, deed restricted, market-rate rentals, condominiums, shelters, or farmworker housing
  • Meet the LIFT income-qualification requirements.

 

To learn more and apply, visit mceCleanEnergy.org/multifamily-savings/

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