Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a third of California’s population qualified as low-income. The fraction of qualified customers has increased significantly with layoffs during pandemic. The climate crisis also requires an evolution of our electric grid, and CPUC policies must also tackle the challenge of designing a reliable, affordable, and safe transformation of the electric grid to carbon-free in California.
The Residential Programs and Portfolio Approval section’s responsibility includes approval of the state efficiency portfolio for all customer segments. More specifically, we review and approve of California’s income qualified assistance program administrators’ proposed strategies and budget for achieving goals for a) enrolling eligible customers in bill savings programs, and b) energy savings and hardship reduction for customers in need. More broadly we evaluate the role of income qualified programs in supporting the state to reach our state carbon-free goals equitably. The income qualified and energy efficiency program administrators regulated by the Commission include large and small investor owned electric and gas utilities.
The analyst will lead the low income needs assessment (LINA) study to inform future proposals for setting regulatory policies. This effort entails stakeholder development to solicit input and provide transparency to build awareness, trust, and consensus among a stakeholder community and coordination of individuals across multiple organizations. The LINA study looks specifically at how programs can best be designed to efficiently and effectively serve that need. The analyst’s activities will inform and facilitate greater effectiveness of existing programs. For example, additional assigned duties may include working with program administrators to encourage:
- Collaboration with external stakeholders and community-based organizations on innovations in marketing and outreach to ensure eligible customers’ awareness, access, and participation in programs.
- Use of sophisticated data processing to identify those customers in greatest need that are not yet enrolled and analyze why.
- Assessing policies and making recommendations based on data analysis to ease of enrollment to energy bill savings programs, and minimizing attrition of eligible customers.
- Maintenance and updates of verification models to appropriately ensure that customers enrolled in bill savings programs are indeed eligible.
In these efforts, the analyst will collaborate with state and local government agencies that have a shared mission in serving income qualified residential customers essential services at rates they can afford. The analyst will also collaborate with other divisions across the CPUC with the goal of leveraging customer programs to support the state reaching customers in greatest need so that carbon-free goals may be met in an equitable manner. For example, through leveraging knowledge and methods from other government programs such as Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and CalFresh, as well as identifying and prioritizing customers in greatest need, such as disconnected customers, and future opportunities, such as solar generation and battery storage, the analyst is more effectively able to reach and serve low income customers’ needs.
In general, the Analyst’s role in policy development includes developing original and impartial policy options; soliciting, reviewing, summarizing, and incorporating stakeholder input or proposals, and compiling data and presenting analytical evidence in support or rebuttal of options or proposals. The staff’s role in policy implementation includes proactive anticipation of risks and challenges. Finally, to identify gaps and inconsistencies in policy’s effectiveness, the analyst ensures data is collected for evaluation of the success of decision directed activities against the intended goal to inform future policy development.
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