As summarized by the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network, energy efficiency collaboratives or work groups can be helpful in gathering stakeholder input and resolving complex issues. In several EEFA states, coalition partners are advancing or participating in work groups focused specifically on low-income energy needs to further the dialogue and identify equitable energy efficiency solutions.
In Michigan, EEFA partners encouraged the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to re-start and facilitate the Energy Waste Reduction Low-Income Work Group that formerly ran from 2008-2012. This group aims to integrate the experience and expertise of state agencies, utility providers, and other energy and low-income stakeholders to bridge gaps between program offerings and seek opportunities to better serve low-income and multifamily buildings. Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) and National Housing Trust, with guidance from other MI EEFA partners, are helping the MPSC to launch this work group, set agendas, and establish a pattern of interactive, welcoming meetings that are accessible and relevant to a wide range of non-energy stakeholders. The 6/14 meeting focused on multifamily and resulted in commitments by members to work on deliverables such as a directory of key affordable housing stakeholders and a map of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit process, including how it might intersect with utility energy efficiency programs. The work group currently meets monthly and will hold its next meeting on July 26, when it will focus on state agency programs and the topic of outreach and engagement of low-income single-family stakeholders. For more information contact Annika Brink or Nick Dreher. To join the Work Group email list, contact Brad Banks.
Similarly, in Missouri the Missouri Energy Efficiency Advisory Collaborative (MEEAC) Low-Income Work Group was launched by the Missouri EEFA coalition. This is an off-shoot of a statewide stakeholder collaborative run by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) Staff that meets biannually. Recent rule changes allowed for the establishment of work groups by interested stakeholders.
The MEEAC Low-Income Work Group’s mission is “To maximize the benefits of, and access to, energy efficiency for Missouri’s low-income households.” The group quickly prioritized six key areas, including coordination among key affordable housing stakeholders, coordination of Weatherization and utility programs, and addressing walk-away health and safety issues that may impede utilities’ abilities to deliver energy efficiency to multifamily properties. Together, participants have identified 14 priority deliverables, which are being moved forward by 12 different point-people. The group is in the process of forming a steering committee to help guide it over the long term. For more information contact Annika Brink.
In California, EEFA members were appointed to two new state boards that were approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in response to new legislation and an initiative within the state legislature. The two groups are the Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group and the Low-Income Oversight Board. First meetings for both boards were held, with renter issues at the forefront of the conversation. The Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group newly appointed members include representatives from the NAACP, the Tuolumne Me-Wuk Tribal Council, Earthjustice, GRID Alternatives, and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. The formation of the group fulfills the requirements in Senate Bill 350 the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015. All appointees were approved by CPUC on February 21, 2018.
Members of the Low-Income Oversight Board (LIOB) include representatives from NRDC, Coalition for Economic Survival, and Rates and Regulatory for California American Water and Hawaii American Water. The LIOB was established by the state legislature to both advise the CPUC on low-income electric and gas challenges facing customers and to serve as a liaison for the CPUC to low-income ratepayers and representatives.
In April 2018, Illinois revamped and launched their low-income energy efficiency work group. Previously named the Economically Disadvantaged Clean Energy Stakeholder Advisory Committee, it is now called the Illinois Income Qualified Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee. The Committee has two sub-committees - one in Northern IL and on in Southern IL (IQ North and IQ South).
The relaunch of the work group was required by the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, which states that utilities must convene an advisory committee to “assist in the design and evaluation of the low-income energy efficiency programs”. The IQ North Committee covers the ComEd, People Gas/North Shore Gas, and Nicor service territories, and the IQ South Committee covers the Ameren IL service territory.
EEFA partners participate in these committees to ensure the bigger and better low-income multifamily energy efficiency programs that began on Jan. 1st, 2018 are running smoothly, but also to continue making suggestions to the utilities along the way. These committees are also a place for economically disadvantaged community groups to share their needs. EEFA partners are helping to encourage wide, diverse participation within the committee and continuing to look for ways to make this new forum fruitful for anyone that wants to participate. Reach out to Laura Goldberg, for more information/questions. Additional details on the committee can also be found here.