Atlanta energy program targets low-income areas

The city of Atlanta is partnering with a federal agency to help residents of low-income neighborhoods reduce their energy costs through energy-efficient appliances and “distributed renewables” – power generated by renewable energy, like small-scale solar panel applications.

The U.S. Department of Energy program is called the Better Buildings Clean Energy in Low Income Communities Accelerator. It seeks local partners to develop best practices and funding ideas that others can follow.

To reach low-income areas, Atlanta expects to work with community organizations such as the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, SouthFace Energy Institute and Partnership for Southern Equity, according to a city spokeswoman.

The Accelerator program requires local partners to appoint a leader, convene a task force, develop an action plan, achieve certain goals within 24 months, and share the results with the Department of Energy and other Accelerator partners.

“Low income households spend an average of 15 to 20 percent of their income on energy bills, whereas energy burdens above 6 percent are typically considered unaffordable,” the Accelerator local partnership agreement says. “Energy efficiency can lower overall needs and costs for energy and make buildings more comfortable. Distributed renewables can reduce risk from energy costs, promote economic development and improve the environment.”

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