Low-income communities and communities of color often live in old, poorly insulated, and inefficient housing. This is due to historical practices such as redlining, discriminatory lending, and disinvestment that have led to inequitable outcomes. Many low-income households face high energy burdens—this means that they spend a larger share of their income on energy bills than other households.
Utilities and other key stakeholders can work with low-income communities to create programs that adequately serve customers, reduce high energy burdens, and create additional benefits. Energy utilities and other energy efficiency program administrators have been working to incorporate best practice strategies into their program design, implementation, and evaluation. In doing so, they have worked to create or expand comprehensive and equitable programs to maximize energy efficiency benefits in low-income communities.
Low-Income Utility Working Group
In 2016, ACEEE launched a utility working group to identify best practices for improving and expanding low-income energy efficiency programs, provide technical assistance to utilities, and foster peer-to-peer learning among utilities and other program administrators. The working group has grown over the years; it currently consists of more than 50 utilities and statewide program administrators. Group members attend bi-monthly working group calls that feature both guest speakers and working group members who provide case study examples and illustrate innovative strategies and practices. ACEEE tailors topics, technical assistance, and resources to address challenges identified by the group.
ACEEE welcomes new working group participants that are administering, developing, implementing, or considering low-and moderate-income energy efficiency programs. Our membership includes investor-owned utilities, co-ops, municipal utilities, and program administers across the United States. At this time, the working group is only open to utility or statewide energy efficiency program representatives, or third-party administrators who are directly invited to participate by an energy utility. The working group convenes for 60-minute virtual meetings every other month throughout the year. The group will identify key topics and strategies to discuss. Previous meeting topics include:
- Effective and equitable low-income program metrics, evaluation and design strategies
- Strategies for reaching multilingual customers
- Increasing access to efficient appliances for low- and moderate-income customers
- Utility and community action agency collaboration strategies
- Delivering energy efficiency to rural communities