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MD City Receives Installment of Merger Funds

August 23, 2013 — Earlier this month, the City of Baltimore accepted approximately $52.88 million in funding for low-income energy and conservation assistance. The money came from the "Customer Investment Fund," which the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) created as part of the merger agreement between Exelon Corp. and Constellation Energy last year.

In February 2012, the PSC ordered the Exelon Corp. to create the $113.5 million Investment Fund to provide energy efficiency and low-income rate assistance to customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric. The PSC added conditions to the merger agreement, including the fund, because it felt the companies' original proposal posed "very real and potential harm to consumers." In creating the fund, the PSC said it wanted to focus on longer-term benefits for low-income customers, homeowners, and businesses by "creating new and incremental opportunities" for energy assistance and efficiency.

The PSC issued a call for proposals in March 2012. Various Baltimore city agencies crafted the "Coordinating Resources to Effectively Align and Transform Energy Services," also known as CREATES, and submitted a request for funding. In November 2012, the PSC awarded the City of Baltimore about $52.88 million for CREATES.

In Mid-August, the Baltimore Board of Estimates accepted the first of three annual payments. The following are included in the funded CREATES program:

    • Families with financial challenges and unpaid utility bills will receive more focused assistance.
    • Fifteen thousand families will receive conservation education and programmable thermostats to save energy.
    • Families denied weatherization in the past due to roofing, plumbing, and structural problems will now be helped.
    • Over 1,000 families with oil heating systems will be converted to natural gas.

Many of the activities listed in the program will build on existing relationships between city agencies and the state LIHEAP and Weatherization Assistance programs.

Four other entities also received money from the Customer Investment Fund. They are the Maryland Energy Administration, a state agency dedicated to maximizing energy efficiency while promoting economic development; Baltimore County; Comprehensive Housing Assistance, which works to develop and support thriving communities in neighborhoods with a substantial Jewish population; and the Fuel Fund of Maryland, which serves 10 counties and the City of Baltimore. For a more detailed breakdown of the funds awarded by the PSC in November 2012, see the table below.

Maryland Public Service Commission
Distribution of "Customer Investment Fund"
 
Proposer Program Name Customer Segment Approved Funding
Baltimore City
Energy Challenge
All
$3,119,782
Case Management
Low-Income Residential
$3,312,118
Co generation
Commercial/Industrial
$5,196,555
Energy Assistance
Low-Income Residential
$1,885,105
Energy Efficiency
Low-Income Residential
$7,415,556
Energy Efficiency Plus
Low-Income Residential
$19,839,215
Retrofits and Upgrades
Commercial
$10,393,110
Urban Heat Island Mitigation
Commercial
$1,714,863
Maryland Energy Administration
Improved EE for Affordable Multi-Family Housing
Multi-Family/Rental
$9,000,000
Net Zero Energy Schools
Schools
$9,000,000
Next Generation EE Gains for the Industrial Sector
Industrial
$3,000,000
Small Business Energy Advances
Commercial
$2,500,000
Targeted and Enhanced Weatherization
Low-Income Residential
$19,000,000
Baltimore County
Sustainable Dundalk Initiative
Residential
$350,000
Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.
Energy Home Improvement Loan Fund
Residential
$2,000,000
Fuel Fund of Maryland
Program Expansion
Low-Income Residential
$14,871,204
Total from the Fund::
$112,597,508

Sources: Baltimore Brew, Maryland Public Service Commission