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Green Building News

Berkeley’s Stimulus-Funded Energy Efficiency Program

City officials and residents are enthusiastic about ME2, but with only $600,000 in the budget, there likely will be more applicants than participants

In the East Bay. Berkeley’s Money for Energy Efficiency Program subsidy categories and retrofit goals.
Image Credit: City of Berkeley

The Money for Energy Efficiency Program, launched this week in Berkeley, California, seems to have just about everything going for it except lots of money. The Department of Energy granted about $600,000 in stimulus funds for the pilot project, which is expected to be enough to subsidize energy efficiency improvements for just a few hundred Berkeley households in single-family, duplex, and multifamily buildings.

But given the largely positive response to the basic goals and terms of the program by both city officials and residents, ME2 administrators predict it will be oversubscribed quickly. Subsidy grantees will be selected via lottery, for which applications are being accepted through midnight July 20. Property owners who qualify for ME2 participation also may qualify for green-retrofit rebates offered by PG&E, the utility company that serves much of Northern California.

The ME2 program is divided into five subscriber categories: low-income residents; moderate-income residents (click here for the program’s income-eligibility chart); residents not eligible for either of the income-qualified programs; multifamily property owners; and commercial building owners and tenants.

Income-based incentives

Up to $3,500 of ME2 weatherization work will be provided for free to low-income homeowners, for example, while those in the moderate-income category are likely to receive a subsidy of about $6.700. Those ineligible for income-qualified participation subsidies may receive subsidies of up to $8,500, including rebates from PG&E. The city says its ME2 goal for the low-income category is to weatherize 200 homes and apartments, and to retrofit 90 homes in the moderate-income category and 120 in the general residential category.

“A lot of people are going to be very excited about this work, but not everybody is going to get the money,” Ori Skloot, president of home-performance specialist Advanced Home Energy, told the Daily Californian.

Recurve, another contractor authorized to participate in the program (certification by the Building Performance Institute is required), has been marketing its services by offering free audits and deferred remodeling payments for Berkeley residents who become eligible for the program, which is expected to save more than $100 million in net energy costs over the next 10 years.


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