Baltimore –The Maryland Public Service Commission has ordered DHCD to become the sole provider of weatherization and energy retrofitting programs for low income households throughout the state, approving $70.6 million for the next three years to help single family and multifamily homes become more energy efficient. Read the order.
The decision comes as DHCD winds down its three-year, $64 million Weatherization Assistance Program under the Recovery Act, but as Governor O’Malley seeks $50 million for weatherization efforts in the Baltimore region as part of the proposed merger agreement between Constellation Energy Group and Exelon Corp.
The PSC, which began evaluating the first phase of the 2008 EmPOWER Act in September, found that most of the utility companies had not met the commission’s goals and expectations with regard to low income households.
“DHCD’s programs, on the other hand, greatly surpassed even the best performing utility, all while creating jobs, ensuring that all contractors are properly and consistently trained, implementing and maintaining rigid quality control measures, and keeping marketing costs extremely low,” the commission reported in its Dec. 22 order.
DHCD manages four programs that contribute to EmPOWER Maryland’s energy reduction goals: the Weatherization Assistance Program that improves the energy efficiency of single family homes; the Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability program that provides similar services to multifamily rental units; the statewide building codes; and the Be SMART program that provides financing for energy improvements in homes, multifamily units and businesses.
DHCD weatherized nearly 8,000 low income houses between July 2009 and October 2011, taking a program that did less than 80 units per month and growing it into a program now doing more than 400 units per month. DHCD’s MEEHA program provided $8.8 million to 46 different multi-family projects across the state and has proven to be extremely cost effective as an average investment of $1,750 per unit returns a savings of more than $10,000.