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Rewiring Communities

A Plan to Accelerate Climate Action and Environmental Justice By Investing in Household Electrification at the Local Level

By Adam Zurofsky, Jeffrey Schub, John Rhodes, Tony Curnes, and Sam Calisch, May 2021

Households, and the decisions they make, account for approximately 42 percent of energy related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Reaching people where they live requires more than just aspirational goals or even generous funding; it requires solutions that will speak to them “at the kitchen table” as well as coordinated strategies for driving results. It also means delivering benefits directly to those households most in need.

"Rewiring Communities," designed in partnership with the Coalition for Green Capital, is a new, innovative proposal focused on delivering the climate, economic and health benefits of household electrification to low-to-moderate income (LMI) families by bringing together the capabilities of local communities and the financial resources and administrative flexibility of the proposed Clean Energy & Sustainability Accelerator (the “Accelerator"). Indeed, the primary purpose of the program is to help LMI households and front line communities through household electrification. Not only are these the households most in need of housing and economic assistance, but they also represent the best opportunities for emissions reductions.

Recommendations

  • Provide comprehensive financial support to make switching to modern electric equipment at the time of natural replacement affordable, including both subsidized financing and direct “off the top” assistance to ensure that LMI households need not fund electrification “out of pocket.”
  • Produce energy bill savings for participating households, and especially LMI households, on Day One, inclusive of any financing costs.
  • Work with the Accelerator to create tailored solutions and catalyze meaningful participation by private capital.
  • Train and place workers to deliver maximum local job creation within participating communities.
  • Actively include trusted community organizations so as to drive engagement and confidence.
  • Simplify the process of going electric by empowering contractors, installers, and other market participants to streamline adoption.

Findings

Here are some estimates of the benefits the program could deliver across the country between now and 2030 if implemented:

  • 11.8 million households in every corner of the country would realize immediate energy bill savings. 8.9 million of them would be LMI households (over 75% of the total).
  • Average all-in savings of up to $750 per household annually compared to replacing in-kind.
  • Over 750,000 new direct and indirect jobs created nationwide.
  • Over 40 million metric tons in emissions reductions annually, equivalent to taking 8 million cars off the road.
  • Over $86 billion in private capital participation alongside approximately $80 billion in public support. Over 90 percent of all program funds would directly benefit LMI (low- to moderate- income) households.

Media coverage

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