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City Launches Community Energy Efficiency Project with Prosperity Works, Energy Works and Southwest Energy Efficiency Project

Home retrofits to help International District residents receive support to increase environmental justice

The City of Albuquerque is partnering with Prosperity Works, Energy Works and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) to conduct energy audits this week as a first step in the innovative new Community Energy Efficiency (CEE) project to create sustainable home improvements in underserved communities. With support from a $100,000 City Council appropriation, the partners are scheduling income-qualified homeowners in the International District to receive free energy audits, and developing retrofit plans to create significant energy savings and increase safety and comfort for homeowners. Community liaisons will assist homeowners throughout the process, and the range of home upgrades can include window and door replacements, insulation and heating, and cooling system replacements.

"Today we're continuing our work to address the unequal burden that energy costs place on lower-income households. Improving energy efficiency is key to reducing emissions, and when addressed intentionally, can make Albuquerque a more equitable city,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “This partnership provides a new opportunity to support households most impacted by the effects of a changing climate, and their ability to access and benefit from energy efficiency upgrades.”

Data has shown that low-income residents, especially in the International District, typically have disproportionately high utility bills compared to other city residents -- spending as high as 10 percent or more of their household incomes on utility bills. This is often due to the inefficiency of older homes and appliances, and the costs associated with repairs and updates. Based on previous surveys of low-income homeowners, these residents have frequently faced the difficult choice between covering medical costs, food, or their monthly energy bill. To maximize available resources, additional home update resources from the City’s Albuquerque Fire Rescue, Senior Affairs Department and utility assistance programs will also be offered to the homeowners.

“Concluding the very long process of enacting our modernized building energy code, it was a bonus to add this funding as a capstone. Hats off to Prosperity Works for their great work, for which we can only hope to provide more city support,” said City Councilor Isaac Benton.

“Finding the intersections of environmental, economic, and health burdens that disproportionally impact people in low resourced communities creates exciting opportunities to improve the efficiency, health, safety and comfort of homes while reducing costs and harmful emissions” said Ona Porter of Prosperity Works.

This project is the latest development in supporting energy efficiency in low-income communities in Albuquerque -- building off a previous initiative that began Summer 2020. Prior support from the City, Prosperity Works, Partnership for Community Action and PNM focused on surveying and providing energy audits and improvements to low income communities experiencing high energy burdens and significant health disparities in Albuquerque. Over 200 homes were provided with upgrades resulting in an average of $100 utility bill savings and 943 kWh energy savings per customer. This prior work was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Energy Foundation as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge. 

This project builds on the Keller Administration’s substantial work to date on sustainability, including:

  • Won a $2.7 million federal grant to bring the first electric buses to Albuquerque,
  • Signed the Paris Agreement, after President Trump pulled out, committing the city to climate action,
  • Installed 38 solar projects at city-owned buildings,
  • Launched the Green Team to expand sustainability across departments,
  • Launched the Mayor’s Energy Challenge to support local businesses reduce energy use,
  • Won Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge with funding for sustainability efforts,
  • Made the transition to more sustainable LED street lights citywide,
  • Provided over 200 homes with free energy audits and upgrades in partnership with PNM, Partnership for Community Action and Prosperity Works,
  • Partnered with PNM to launch the Solar Direct project to get to achieve over 80% renewable energy use by Fall 2021,
  • Purchased the first electric vehicles for the City fleet, and enacted a “Zero Emissions First” fleet vehicle adoption policy,
  • Achieved LEED for Cities Silver certification,
  • Ranked 40th on the 2020 City Clean Energy Scorecard—and 5th most improved—by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE),
  • Invested $300,000 in VW settlement funding to add 18 electric charging stations in Albuquerque by Summer 2021, and
  • Launched the 2021 Climate Action Plan.