Chicago to pay for electric stoves, heat pumps for lower-income homes
The $15 million initiative will directly help residents who may not otherwise have the means to remove fossil fuel appliances from their homes. Kari Lydersen reports for Energy News Network
In a nutshell:
Recently minted Chicago Mayor, Brandon Johnson, took the unusual first step of honoring campaign rhetoric by committing funds and requesting proposals for initiatives to reduce indoor pollution and provide affordable heating and cooling for low-income and otherwise vulnerable residents.The initiative acknowledges and addresses the paradox of encouraging decarbonization through electrification while ensuring that those who lack the means to upgrade won't be left behind.
“With this RFP, the Johnson administration is showing their priorities are in the right place when it comes to tackling environmental justice and the problems of energy burden,” said Sarah Moskowitz, executive director of the Illinois Citizens Utility Board. “We already had a good feeling about the mayor and everything he’s said about building electrification and the need for healthier and more affordable energy in our homes. This underlines it.”
Mayor Johnson's initiative tracks closely and builds on recommendations from a decarbonization working group convened by the previous mayor, Lori Lightfoot, as well as the encouragement of the Citizens Utility Board and heightened public interest in going electric. Also driving the push for electrification is a $402 million rate increase sought by Peoples Gas Company, the dominant (and only) gas utility in Chicago. There is legitimate concern that without organized financial assistance and incentives for vulnerable residents—primarily low-income renters—decarbonization will lack the desired penetration.