On July 27th, HUD issued a press release with updates to programs affecting energy and utility usage, two of which may be of interest to PHAs: Community Solar Credits and the Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base program. Both can help PHAs support tenants by lowering the cost of energy.
Community Solar Power
Community Solar Power credits allow residents in a multifamily structure to opt to use power from community solar panels rather than having their own panels installed on their individual units. This model makes solar power more accessible and can lower tenants’ utility bills. HUD issued a national solar credit memo that applies to a number of rental assistance programs within Multifamily Housing. This memo is not the same information HUD recently provided to several states, which were implementing their own solar programs. This new national memo specifies the rental assistance programs eligible for community solar participation. Next, it defines how to determine the effect of community solar on utility allowances. And finally, it articulates how to incorporate or exclude solar credits in annual income calculations. The new community solar power memo can be found here.
Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base Utility Program
The Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base (SR-FRB) is the average amount of utility usage incorporated into the Public Housing Operating Fund formula. This program allows PHAs to capture average usage for their most recent three-year period and use this data in Operating Fund calculations for up to 20 years. Savings generated from using the SR-FRB in the formula and improving efficiency afterward may be used to support the public housing program. HUD has not released new guidance but rather has announced an “educational campaign” to encourage utilization of this program. Currently, HUD has provided PIH 2020-30, a list of eligible PHAs, and a list of properties that qualify for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization program. HUD states that the deadline to apply for the SR-FRB program is September 2022. Notice PIH 2020-30 can be found here. The list of eligible small and rural PHAs can be found here. Properties qualifying for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization program can be found here.
HUD’s press release including additional programs intended to lower electricity costs can be found here.