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Energy Commissioner McAllister Speaks About Decarbonization for All

The path to California’s climate goals hinges on improving energy performance in buildings. For the state’s lowest income residents, this path can come with barriers.

During a June webinar, California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister joined panelists with the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment (CLEE) to discuss the center’s recent “Low Income, High Efficiency” study that looked at policies to expand low-income multifamily energy savings retrofits.

McAllister and other study contributors raised the possibilities and challenges of extending efficiency measures to low-income residents.

He said while 35 to 45 percent of Californians are low-income, housing and energy policy for that population remains underdeveloped. That is why there is a need to focus on equity, he said.

“This issue is vital,” he said.

McAllister hopes that new data, ideas, and recommendations from reports like CLEE’s or the Senate Bill 350 Low-Income Barriers Study can lead to advances that promote clean energy access for all. The study, which the Energy Commission submitted to the Legislature, examined barriers and provided recommendations on how to help low-income residents and disadvantaged communities participate in the state's transition to a low-carbon energy future.

“We are not going to achieve our climate goals without involving every Californian,” McAllister said, adding that without measures for energy equity. “Not only is it the right thing to do, but also, collectively, we won’t be successful unless everyone shares the benefits of clean energy.”

McAllister said a commitment to decarbonization for all generates an abundance of co-benefits. This includes creating 400,000 jobs in California’s energy sector and the health benefits of fewer pollutants in local communities.

The CLEE study identified a lack of capital and split incentives as the primary barriers in implementing energy policies that include low-income residents. The crux of the issue is in navigating the different interests of landlords and tenants, and the limited resources of tenants.

The study highlighted three findings for potential solutions: create an one-stop shop administration system to streamline access to programs, launch more programs to test emerging policies and leverage new technologies, and develop a statewide database that corresponds with the public’s energy and timeline needs. Source:

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