The Equitable Building Decarbonization Program Is Set to Launch—But Needs Secure Funds

A new program for low-income Californians will allow residents to access clean energy, but state budget cuts put this program at risk.

An illustration showing the outline of a house in green leaves with sustainability symbols in the background

Petmal via iStock


The Equitable Building Decarbonization (EBD) Program will replace polluting gas appliances with clean and efficient electric models that will help advance California’s broader goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. Equitable building decarbonization is the electrification of homes through an equity lens: ensuring the most disadvantaged communities have access to clean energy, along with needed home repairs. 

This precedent-setting program prioritizes low-income residents of single-family, multifamily, and manufactured homes in under-resourced and Indigenous communities. It will engage community-based organizations, ensure protection for renters, and is critical to advancing California’s goals of three million climate-ready homes and six million heat pumps by 2030.

California has adopted guidelines for its most ambitious effort yet to eliminate the burning of natural gas inside the homes of low-income residents—and it is a pathway that other states could follow too. But recent budget cuts threaten this program.

The $922 million originally committed to the EBD Program is at risk

Originally, $922 million was allocated for EBD over several years. In January 2024, Governor Gavin Newsom released a budget proposal that cut 30 percent in funding from EBD (a $283 million reduction), and last week, his May revised budget proposed an additional cut of more than $100 million. These budget cuts put this path-breaking program at risk and threaten the ability of thousands of households to participate and receive home upgrades.

A person cutting a piece of paper with the word "budget" in half

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The EBD Direct Install Program Guidelines, unanimously adopted by the California Energy Commission (CEC), aim to guide the historic program to provide home upgrades to ensure that clean technologies—such as energy-saving electric appliances—replace gas (and its climate-warming carbon pollution) in heating, cooking, and other uses. These “direct install” upgrades take a holistic approach to improving home energy efficiency and household health by installing climate-friendly appliances while also tackling the non-carbon pollutants and repairs that are needed in these homes.

What approval of the guidelines means

The adoption of EBD guidelines and the release of the request for implementers are important because they will create a pathway to electrification for thousands of Californians who otherwise would not be able to afford or access clean energy appliances in their homes. Now that the guidelines have been adopted, the program's implementation phase is underway and regional program administrators (PAs), who will work with community-based organizations (CBOs), will be selected. Expertise from the PAs and CBOs will be essential for them to work with the communities that will benefit from this program. The EBD program will close the accessibility gap by ensuring under-resourced residents are prioritized when receiving upgrades to their homes.

Interested PAs and CBOs can submit their applications to the CEC to be considered for program implementors by June 28, 2024. Additionally, qualifying residents will be invited to participate in the program and be informed of the electric appliances and possible home upgrades they will receive at no cost to them. Once the residents are approved, the PAs and CBOs will work together with the CEC and contractors, who will come into residents’ homes to install the new all-electric appliances.

Aerial view of a housing development

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Clean energy and electrification are pathways to a healthy home

Electrification is a pathway to transforming low-income residents’ homes and providing them with clean energy. Going all-electric in existing buildings can reduce customer bills, especially when paired with other energy efficiency improvements. However, upgrading to new electric appliances has a price tag that can be a barrier, especially for Californians already struggling to pay high food, housing, and medical costs. 

Low-income residents already face difficulty paying high energy bills; transitioning to clean energy alternatives will close the clean energy gap in California and provide relief to millions of residents facing energy insecurity.

Using electricity—especially when generated from pollution-free, renewable resources like wind and solar—cuts the carbon emissions fueling climate change and reduces hazardous air pollution. Eliminating fossil fuels in our homes also has important health benefits as burning gas releases nitrogen oxides and particulates, which can lead to serious health problems. In the long run, electrification is more cost-effective than the continuing use of fossil fuels and will aid low-income families in saving money and helping to protect their health. 

We must continue to advocate for clean home electrification and a strong budget that will commit to investments in new zero-emission appliances, tenant protections, good jobs, and increased resilience to climate change impacts. 

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