Small Steps in Coordination Equal Leaps and Bounds for Pennsylvania’s Underserved Families: Driving Policy Improvements through Collaborative Advocacy is a case study on advocating for an integrated approach to service delivery that addresses both bill affordability and energy efficiency opportunities.
Low-income energy efficiency (EE) is an intersectional issue, and draws a diverse set of stakeholders from a spectrum of public interest fields. Since 2014, advocates from the environmental, affordable housing, energy, and low-income communities (including the authors of this paper) have worked together to develop a targeted strategy to drive improvements to low-income energy efficiency policy in Pennsylvania. Their work draws on the skills, expertise, and resources of multiple disciplines, and prioritizes the multiple benefits that energy efficiency provides for low-income households.
The advocates’ efforts have driven measurable success, including an increase in the savings carve-out for low-income EE programs, and targeted utility programs that provide EE for both master and individually metered multifamily buildings. These policy changes increased the utility-proposed low-income EE spending by more than $30 million dollars over 5 years, of which $28 million was committed specifically to multifamily housing. The advocates have since worked extensively with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and other key low-income housing stakeholders to connect housing providers with multifamily EE programming and to facilitate an open dialogue to adjust program terms and align program incentives.
Building on these successes, the advocates are now promoting an integrated approach to service delivery that addresses both bill affordability and EE opportunities. While proceedings are ongoing, it is hoped that continued efforts will provide further improvements for Pennsylvania’s underserved communities.