CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEEN CITY NEWS) – The city of Charlotte is partnering with Duke Energy Carolinas to launch an income-qualified energy efficiency home rehabilitation pilot program. 

The High Energy Use Pilot Program is intended to help income-qualified customers with high energy use receive much-needed home repairs and energy-efficiency retrofits that will improve housing safety and reduce their electricity usage and overall costs. City Council approved the venture unanimously at Monday’s regular business meeting. 

Charlotte is one of three North Carolina municipalities, including Forsyth and Guilford counties, selected for the pilot program. The initial goal is to assist 1,000 participants over a two-year span from an estimated 22,000 income-qualified residents in all identified areas. 

“You probably hear from several of our residents, at least I have heard throughout my tenure on the council,” Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera said. “They have utility bills, especially electric, that are over $500, which places a high burden for families who live on fixed income. This program will help those residents to stay in housng while they continue to make energy-efficient repairs. We’re really leveraging a partnership to ensure we’re helping more families.” 

Duke Energy will invest approximately $4 million in the Charlotte region to support energy retrofits for approximately 500 high-electrical use, income-qualified customers. The city will provide up to $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to support home repairs necessary before energy efficiency retrofits can occur.   

“The city is excited to partner with Duke Energy on this program,” said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. “By providing much-needed home repairs and energy retrofits, we can lower energy costs and provide safer housing for our residents who need it most, and at the same time reduce emissions in our community.” 

Home repairs may include window, roof, chimney, plumbing or water heater repairs or replacements, pressure relief valve installation, mechanical ventilation and lead-based paint hazard control.   

According to the Department of Energy, the national average energy burden – the percentage of gross income spent on energy costs – for low-income households is 8.6 percent, which is three times higher than for non-low-income households (estimated at 3 percent).

Energy retrofit measures may include the replacement of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as sealing air leaks, installing insulation, installing LED bulbs and exchanging older refrigerators with Energy Star models. 

“Duke Energy is proud to collaborate with the City of Charlotte on this public-private partnership to deliver the benefits of energy efficiency to a greater diversity of customers across the city,” said Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “We appreciate the city’s leadership and are hopeful that this pilot, if successful, may one day help expand offerings to help more customers save energy and money, and support a cleaner energy future for all communities we serve.”