ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation today that will deliver healthier housing and significant annual energy savings to the stateâ€™s most cost-burdened households.
HB 108 and SB 524, sponsored by Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Brian Feldman, will require the state to specifically provide energy-efficient upgrades for the hundreds of thousands of low-income residents, where an unfairly large share of the energy-cost burden falls.
The following is a statement from Deron Lovaas, Senior Policy Advisor for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council):
â€œThis desperately needed legislation will ensure that the Marylanders who live in the most dangerous conditions and pay the highest percentage of their income on energy bills, will no longer be left behind.
â€œThis first in the nation legislation will ensure that everyone has access to the many benefits of energy efficiency, lowering energy bills for the most vulnerable while creating safer homes.â€
The following is a statement from Raymond Nevo, State & Equity Policy Manager at the National Housing Trust:
â€œThis legislation could have significantly reduced the health disparities my family and I endured growing up. Most see affordable housing as just four walls and a roof, but it is so much more. This legislation gives those most in need a chance to live in their homes with dignity.â€
The following is a statement from Ruth Ann Norton, President, and CEO of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative:
â€œThe Green & Healthy Homes Initiative commends the leadership of Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Brian Feldman for the successful passage of House Bill 108 and Senate Bill 524, Public Utilities – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programs – Energy Performance Targets and Low-Income Housing. Passage of this historic legislation not only creates a national model but more importantly puts Maryland one step closer to making tangible progress on energy equity and setting forth a plan to protect our climate and the health and well-being of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
â€œThis legislation will ensure that critical weatherization investments are made in housing in the state’s most under-resourced communities which will create more stable, affordable, and healthier homes.â€
Beginning in 2008, the EmPOWER Maryland program required investments in efficiency upgrades for businesses and homes across Maryland, but the program benefits of lower energy costs and improved safety have predominately applied to upper- and middle-class residents. The policy failed to provide adequate funding for Marylandâ€™s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which manages the energy efficiency programs for low-income residents.
HB 108 and SB 524 will require the state to provide funding to achieve 1% annual energy savings for low-income households by 2026. This funding will lower energy bills for 32,000 low-income households each year and lower energy bills for all 450,000 low-income Marylandersâ€“ in 13 years. At the current funding rate, it would take 130 years to reach all these households.
Nationally, low-income households spend 8 cents of every dollar on energy costs. But in Maryland, low-income households spend 13 cents of every dollar â€“ and in some cases, it can be as high as 42 cents.