Statement posted on October 31, 2022
At the adoption of Time-Of-Day pricing for electricity in 2018, Fort Collins Utilities also implemented a pilot program called the Income-Qualified Assistance Program (IQAP). The purpose of this program is to ensure that low-income residents do not spend a greater percentage of their income on utilities than those making 100% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
City Council will be considering making this pilot project an ongoing program at its November 1st meeting (see agenda item here). The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) fully supports making the IQAP an ongoing program, as well as keeping it an auto-enroll, opt-out program, increasing the rate reduction for IQAP participants from 23% to 25% (since utility bills have increased more than incomes), and encouraging participants to take advantage of Larimer County Conservation Corps and Colorado Affordable Residential Energy Program energy saving measures through enrollment in the State of Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP).
The FCSG recommends that Utilities continuously seek to improve both the features and participation rate in the IQAP by:
- Updating the rate reduction on a regular basis;
- Encouraging more LEAP-eligible residents to apply for LEAP (data indicate that only 2000 of 8000 potential participants have been reached);
- Developing a method for including low-income residents that don’t qualify for LEAP (LEAP qualification is based upon 60% of the State AMI, which is less than the local AMI), perhaps through linkages to participants in other City low-income programs; and
- Determining how to get landlords involved, perhaps through a program like Boulder’s SmartRegs program, since most IQAP participants are renters who move often and thus are unable or unwilling to take advantage of Larimer County Conservation Corps and Colorado Affordable Residential Energy Program energy saving measures.
The Agenda Item Summary states that the IQAP helps build “trusted relationships [and] allows the City and Utilities to progressively achieve our environmental goals more aggressively.” The FCSG agrees that this is an important element of the program, and further notes that the IQAP will provide a good means of connecting low-income residents with funding for home energy improvement incentives that will made available through the federal Inflation Reduction Act.
We urge council to approve Ordinance 135-2022 to support both the City’s equity and environmental goals.