Rick Lopes

State Senator

Rick Lopes

Deputy Majority Leader

Fighting For You

May 27, 2021

Senate Approves Legislation Establishing Energy Efficiency Retrofit Grant Program

The Grant Program Will Support the Installation of Energy Efficient Upgrades and Address Public Health Concerns of Tenants

Today, state Senator Rick Lopes (D-New Britain, Berlin, and Farmington), Senate Chair of the Housing Committee, led approval of legislation that will create an energy efficiency retrofit grant program that will serve to fund upgrades to affordable housing in Connecticut, which will help families save on their utility bills and provide additional protection against health risks such as gas leaks, mold, and air pollution. The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for further action.

“This common-sense bill advances our state’s efforts to decrease people’s utility costs while advancing solar generation and energy efficiency. This bill will save tenants money, save landlords money and be better for the environment,” said Sen. Lopes.

Senate Bill 356, “An Act Establishing an Energy Efficiency Retrofit Grant Program for Affordable Housing,” directs the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to develop an energy efficiency retrofit grant program by September 1, 2021. The program would award funds for energy efficiency and weatherization upgrades to affordable housing, including housing authority property, or dwelling unites owned by a landlord based on the determination of the commissioner of DEEP. These upgrades can include but are not limited to: installation of rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, heat pumps, balanced ventilation, and other devices to reduce negative health effects of mold, gas leaks, asbestos, radon, and lead.

Individuals interested in receiving a grant would apply to the commissioner of DEEP. The application would ask for a description of the proposed project, detail the anticipated benefits the project would have due to the energy efficient upgrades, and the applicant’s technical and financial ability to handle the project, and a project budget.

Grants will be prioritized to applicants that:

  • Will upgrade affordable housing or dwelling units for households that include someone who qualifies for utility financial hardship programs or receives means-tested assistance from the state or federal government
  • Use local contractors that pay the prevailing wage and make good faith efforts to hire available and qualified Connecticut minority business enterprises – an independent, small contractor owned by women, people of color, or people with disabilities

The grant program would be financed by federal funds and other received funds from parties, such as associations and corporations.

Senate Bill 356 received the support of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV). Emily Alexander, a Climate Policy Advocate for the CTLCV noted in her testimony the benefits of the program for low-income and distressed communities when it comes to health and hardship in paying utility bills. She testified, “These communities are most at risk for air pollution causing lung and heart diseases, and often struggle with utility bills. SB 356 helps to bridge the equity gap that exists between high and low-income communities by allowing savings on utility bills and addressing public health concerns.”