Consumer surveys explore interest in targeted payment, program options

Energy consulting firm DEFG You are leaving WAPA.gov. has released two new consumer survey reports that could be useful to power providers looking for ways to improve service and satisfaction among different customer groups.

The Best Service for Utility Customers with the Least explores the need for more payment options and programs serving low-income households. These consumers continue to have trouble paying electric and heating bills and struggle to reduce their energy consumption. Respondents expressed concern about paying fees and penalties on their electric bills, and also showed interest in community solar programs. The survey indicates that there are opportunities for utilities to offer this customer group more and better ways to help them manage their energy budgets.

Prepayment appeals to a more segmented audience than low-income programs, but Prepay Energy: Past the Tipping Point and Scaling Up for Success finds that certain customers would welcome this option. Consumers who have adopted prepayment, such as gift cards and reloadable debit cards, and mobile bill payment would like to see their utilities offer them the same convenience. The reasons respondents gave included wanting more control over their energy costs and eliminating surprises by paying for energy as they use it.

An emerging theme across both reports is that consumers across income spectrums are open to utility programs that could help them gain more control over their energy bills. Both reports can be downloaded with a simple email registration.

Source: DEFG, 2/1/17

IREC publication explores renewables options for low-, moderate-income consumers

“Shared” and “community” solar programs are making renewable energy a more affordable option for Americans, but spreading those benefits to low and moderate income (LMI) households still poses a challenge for utilities. Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model ProvisionsYou are leaving WAPA.gov.  a new publication from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), offers comprehensive guidelines on how to do it with the most meaningful results.
IRECreport

The publication offers information and tools for adopting and implementing shared renewables programs that benefit LMI individuals and households. Utilities, shared renewable energy developers, program administrators and others will gain insight into the unique challenges LMI consumers face to enjoying the benefits of shared renewables programs. Specific case studies examine lessons learned and highlight innovative tools and approaches. Stakeholders will find model rules to provide a strong starting point for discussion and potential implementation.

Low- to moderate-income households (those earning up to 120 percent of Area Median Income) represent approximately 60 percent of U.S. households. These consumers typically spend more of their income on energy costs than higher-income households, so they are in the greatest need of help with reducing their energy bills. Unfortunately, the people in these households often face considerable financial barriers to participating in programs that could help them. Problems like lack of access to capital or insufficient credit can prevent them from benefiting from conservation, energy-efficiency and renewable energy measures such as shared renewable projects.

These first-of-their-kind policy guidelines also consider that moderate-income customers may have different circumstances (such as higher credit scores or higher rates of ownership) than low-income customers. Instead of designing programs that approach all LMI customers as a group, programs that address the range of customers within the LMI category may be a more effective way to reach them.

The publication acknowledges that some barriers are due to policies unrelated to program design. IREC advises policymakers and others to be aware of these restrictions and take them into account when designing programs.

IREC has also produced a four-page quick reference guide to the full LMI report. The guide provides a summary of the key components of the guidelines and model provisions, along with references to the relevant sections in the main report.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 3/10/16

Make community solar better with free webinar series

Oct. 22, 12 p.m.
Nov. 19, 12 p.m.
Dec. 10, 12 p.m.

The Community Solar Value Project You are leaving Western's site. (CSVP) and Clean Energy Ambassadors You are leaving Western's site. have teamed up to produce a series of free webinars and discussions on how to make community solar better.JillSolarSlide350

The series has enlisted utility leaders and key stakeholders to weigh in on different aspects of this multi-faceted challenge. Discussions will cover such topics as better solar project design and procurement, ways to address solar variability by using demand-response and storage companion measures, program design for targeted customer appeals and win-win programs for low-income communities.

Join Clean Energy Ambassadors on Thursday, Oct. 22, for How SMUD and Other Utilities are Rethinking Marketing for Community Solar. You are leaving Western's site. A long-time leader in US solar energy deployment, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District You are leaving Western's site. (SMUD) crafted many programs to reduce the economic barriers to solar energy deployment. SMUD’s Solar Shares program targets renters and homeowners who may have solar siting issues to make solar energy accessible when customer-sited generation is not an option. Learn about the innovative solutions SMUD and other utilities are creating to improve upon their past program efforts and to make the benefits of clean energy even more widely available. A question and answer session will follow the presentations.

The November 19 webinar will explore Community Solar that Makes Sense for the Utility and its Low-income Customers. Speakers will discuss projects that address challenges specific to the low income market and different approaches utilities have taken.

On Dec. 10, Holiday Review: New Tools and Resources from the Community Solar Value Project, the final webinar in the series, examines the CSVP’s progress in helping utilities and their customers to work together to speed the transition to a high-value, low-carbon utility of the future.

Recordings of two other discussions, Central Better Community Solar Procurement and Design and How Demand Response and Storage Measures Address Solar Variability and Add Value, are available online.

All webinars take place at 12 p.m., Central Time. There is no cost to participate but registration is required.

Source: Clean Energy Ambassadors, 9/30/15

Webinar explores energy efficiency for low-income customers

May 21, noon CDT

Go beyond weatherization kits and compact fluorescent light bulbs!

Too often, utility programs to help low-income customers begin and end with the tried-and-true measures. The Clean Energy Ambassadors Redirecting to a non-government site free Lunchtime webinar for May highlights innovative energy-efficiency programs that can really make a difference on your low-income customers’ utility bills.

Join your utility colleagues online the third Tuesday of each month from 12-1 p.m. Central time. The Lunchtime Webinar Series offers candid, informal discussions that address the needs of consumer-owned power providers and their rate payers. Visit Clean Energy Ambassadors to register for this free event and to see the full line-up of CEA services and events. If you have any questions please contact Anthony Cutler at 406-969-1040.