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Utility partners can provide sources of leverage or match funds for lead poisoning prevention programs, and increasingly there are also opportunities to invest utility funds directly into housing, health and safety, or to address the environmental sources of lead exposure through partnerships with utilities.
Public service commissions have allowed utility rate-payer funded programs to invest rate-payer dollars in health and safety interventions in homes receiving energy efficiency services. In New York state, for example, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) plans to utilize rate-payer funds to test out service delivery mechanisms for housing health and safety interventions which will address conditions that would otherwise prevent these properties from getting energy efficiency upgrades. This model may be applicable in other states and communities, where lead hazards are a driver for energy efficiency program deferrals, and rate-payer funds are available to leverage or supplement other lead hazard remediation dollars.
In addition, several national water utilities and some municipal water authorities1 are offering programs to inventory and fully replace lead service lines in residential properties, through leveraged investment of rate and fee dollars. Whereas traditionally the property owner may be responsible for the cost of lead service line replacement from the curb line to their home, some utilities are offering to cover the cost of full lead service line (LSL) replacement, either in response to a specific water quality issue, or in an effort to remove lead service lines from their inventory across their service area. One example of this effort is American Water, a national publicly-traded water and waste water management utility, has committed to completing an inventory of the lead service lines across their footprint, and replacing these lines at low or no cost for low-income property owners, preferably utilizing a more cost-effective ‘batch’ approach to LSL replacement (replacing all of the affected service lines on a given block at the same time).