Sample Grant Proposal of Low-Income Wind Power Project

Sample Grant Proposal: Low-Income Wind Energy Project 3
And from 1999 to 2002, residential rates saw a rapid surge of 20%. This understates the
problem, because the rate increases have been disproportionate acoss the state, with some areas
seeing significantly higher
increases. For example,
from October 2000 to the
present, the largest public
utility district in the state
(Snohomish County
PUD), increased
residential rates by 50%.
When rates move with
such volatility, low-
income families are likely
to be left stranded .
Middle and high-income
families have been able to
migrate to gas heat. Of
new single-family residential construction, only 9% is all-electric, according to a June 11, 2003
article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. And while 53% of Washington’s homes heat with
electricity (2000 US Census), fully 73% of low-income homes have electric heat. As often
happens, low-income families have been left stranded in older housing stock, equipped for the
energy markets of three decades ago.
Converting electric-heated households to gas heat would seem to be a solution to electric rate
volatility. And in fact, several programs in the state are taking this tack, including the state’s
LIHEAP program which can perform conversions when a household’s heating system is in such
bad shape that it must be replaced. However, such conversions are expensive and must be
balanced with the need for energy
assistance.
A large conversion program was
announced in June 2003 by Puget
Sound Energy (PSE), the largest
utility in the state. PSE estimates
that it will convert between 20,000
and 25,000 households from electric
to gas. Given that the number of all
electric households in Washington
was placed at 1.2 million by the
2000 US Census, even a “large”
program is a drop in the bucket. The
program is incentive-based, with
$150 rebates on furnaces, $25 on gas
heaters and free hook-ups. However
a $175 incentive on a conversion that may cost $1500 to $2000 is too small to make a difference
to many low-income families. Also, 73% of low-income families are renters. Typically, they
are responsible for utility bills, so there is little incentive for landlords to convert rental units to
gas heat.
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