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ENERGY PROGRAM AND POLICY RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

WHO WE ARE

APPRISE is a nonprofit research institute dedicated to collecting and analyzing data and information to assess and improve public programs. Our current research includes work for federal and state governments, agencies, utility companies, and nonprofit organizations.

APPRISE conducts a wide variety of research activities to provide program administrators and stakeholders with a comprehensive understanding of program design, operations, and impact. This research leads to informed recommendations for program improvement.

WHAT WE DO

APPRISE research focuses on programs that provide bill payment assistance, energy education, and energy efficiency services to low-income households; and programs that provide incentives for undertaking energy efficiency projects to residential, commercial, and industrial utility customers. The goals of bill payment assistance programs are to improve energy affordability and reduce the problems that are associated with high energy bills. The goals of usage reduction programs are to increase knowledge of energy-saving behaviors, improve energy practices, improve the energy efficiency of the home, reduce energy usage, and improve customer health and safety. The goals of other residential, commercial, and industrial energy programs are to reduce energy usage and transform the market for energy efficient products.

UPCOMING CONFERENCES

APPRISE staff members will be attending these conferences:

  • 2019 National Energy & Utility Affordability (NEUAC) Conference – Forth Worth, TX, June 3-5, 2019
  • 2019 International Energy Program Evaluation Conference – Denver, CO, August 19-22, 2019
  • 2020 Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) Annual Conference – Anaheim, CA, February 17-20, 2020
  • 2020 Home Performance Conference – New Orleans, LA, April 27-30, 2020

APPRISE NEWS

Testing Really Matters for Technical Reference Manuals

Technical Reference Manuals (TRMs) are used extensively to predict energy savings and report to regulators, identify cost-effective programs and measures, and compare programs.    The estimates of savings are important because they may affect program measure selection, program funding, or even whether or not a program is continued.  Additionally, they may be used to determine whether the utilities are meeting goals for Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) and result in payments or fines as a result.

Our research has found that TRM projections are often inaccurate and usually overestimate the energy savings that result from a program or measure.  Problems with the TRM analysis can include incorrect or inaccurate assumptions about pre-program usage, measure penetration, and measure retention.  Varying TRMs used in different jurisdictions can lead to widely different estimates of energy savings for the same measures.  The presentation below provides several examples of how and where TRM analysis can go wrong, with specific examples from our research.

The presentation can be found here.

RESEARCH AREAS

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

CURRENT RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

Ameren’s Keeping Current Program provides electric bill payment assistance and arrearage forgiveness to low-income customers. APPRISE is currently undertaking its fourth evaluation of the program.  This evaluation will include in-depth interviews with current participants and with previous successful program participants.  The evaluation will also include analysis of program benefits delivered, and the impact of the program on affordability, bill payment, and collections actions.

APPRISE is conducting a process evaluation to understand the contributions that Avangrid’s marketing programs make to encourage residential and non-residential customers to participate in Avangrid’s energy efficiency program offerings. The research will include in-depth interviews and surveys with program participants to assess the success of various marketing approaches.

APPRISE is conducting an evaluation of Baltimore Gas and Electric’s (BGE) Pre-Payment Pilot Program.  This program will offer a pre-payment option to a random sample of BGE customers.  The evaluation will assess the characteristics of customers who opt into the program, motivation for enrolling, satisfaction with the program, and the impact of the program on energy usage, bill payment, arrearages, collections costs, and other costs.  The research will include stakeholder engagement; a participant survey; and analysis of program, energy usage, billing, payment, arrearage, and collections data.

The California Residential Appliance Saturation Study (RASS), conducted by the California Energy Commission, is used to collect information on California’s residential energy consumption. As with the two previous RASS studies in 2003 and 2009, the findings from this research will be used to support the Energy Commission’s residential energy demand forecast. This study will be implemented as both a web and mail survey, known as the California Home Energy Survey, and will ask residents about their appliances, equipment, and general energy consumption. APPRISE is working with DNV GL Energy Insights USA, Inc. to develop email and mailing materials that encourage resident participation in the survey.  In addition, APPRISE is overseeing a non-response follow-up effort that will use incentives, mailings, phone calls, and personal visits to obtain additional responses from households that do not respond to the initial survey requests.

Consolidated Edison’s Commercial & Industrial program provides incentives to organizations that install qualifying energy-using equipment or who complete energy efficiency projects in their facility.  The managers of the C&I programs are interested in learning more about the key market actors in the supply chain for C&I Ventilation and Air Conditioning Equipment to assist them in their program planning efforts. In this project, APPRISE is working as part of a team that is developing a comprehensive inventory of the most important manufacturers, distributors, mechanical engineers, and VAC contractors in the Con Ed service territory. In addition,  APPRISE is collecting information from each market actor group through in-depth interviews to furnish Con Ed program managers with insights on how to engage each type of market actor in their programs.

APPRISE is conducting research for the District of Columbia’s Office of the People’s Counsel to assess energy affordability for residential consumers.  The analysis will explore the energy affordability needs of different types of residential consumers, examine how current and potential utility initiatives impact energy burden, and characterize the design and implementation of energy affordability programs implemented in other states.  The research will be used to develop recommendations on how to improve energy affordability programs offered to residential consumers in the District.
Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC) administers and implements Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs for the utilities in Colorado.  Their Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Program (NEEP) provides whole building custom energy efficiency upgrades for nonprofit organizations serving low-income communities.  APPRISE is conducting an evaluation of this program to estimate the impacts of energy efficiency on energy usage and to assess the non-energy impacts of the program.
First State CAA is implementing a heating replacement and energy conservation program for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. The Repair Replace Heaters and Conserving Energy (RRHACE) program is designed to assess the needs of low-income households and to deliver a customized set of services, including heating equipment assessment and services, Healthy Homes assessment and services, and energy education. APPRISE is advising First State on the Data Tracking System and conducting Process and Impact Evaluations. The Process Evaluation will assess challenges and opportunities, and will develop performance measures to be assessed in the Impact Evaluation.
APPRISE provides program support to the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is a federally funded program to help eligible low-income households meet their home heating and cooling needs.  The LIHEAP Home Energy Notebook provides LIHEAP grantees with the latest national and regional data on home energy consumption, expenditures, and burden; low-income home energy trends; and the LIHEAP program performance measurement system.  The LIHEAP Report to Congress summarizes data collected on home energy use and households assisted under LIHEAP.  APPRISE furnishes technical support to the Division of Energy Assistance including assistance in the development of performance measurement procedures.  APPRISE is also working with The Division of Energy Assistance to develop a web-based data tool that facilitates the collection of high-quality performance measurement data for the LIHEAP program.

APPRISE is developing a database for the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel to generate customized statistics on characteristics of the low-income population in Maryland.  The database will allow users to analyze income, demographic, energy, and housing characteristics of the low-income population at the state, region, and county levels using data from the American Community Survey.  The database will be used to evaluate energy programs and analyze rate cases that impact low-income customers.

The Community Service Block Grant Program provides funding to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities through services that address employment,  income management, education, housing, nutrition, and health.  APPRISE is supporting the National Association of State Community Service Programs to develop a Data Warehouse for the federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program.  We will develop tools for reporting, validation, and analysis of performance measure data at the local, state, territory, and national level.  Additionally, APPRISE is supporting state efforts to collect and report new performance metrics established by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services.  The project will improve data quality, enhance understanding of CSBG outcomes, and inform program decision-making. 
APPRISE is conducting research for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to assess participation and outreach for the New Jersey LIHEAP and Universal Service Fund (USF) programs.  The study is using publicly available survey data and state program data to assess the characteristics of the income-eligible and LIHEAP-recipient populations.  The study will also estimate participation rates among different segments of the low-income population.  Local agency interviews and a review of state and local outreach methods will provide information on opportunities and barriers to increasing program participation.  The research will furnish DCA with data and analysis needed to develop outreach strategies and policies to increase LIHEAP participation.

PECO’s Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP) provides energy efficiency services and energy education to PECO’s low-income customers to reduce their energy usage and increase the affordability of their energy bills. The evaluations estimated the impact of LIURP on participants’ energy usage, energy bills, and payment compliance and surveyed customers to analyze the impact of energy education and program satisfaction. In the 2016 program evaluation, APPRISE also conducted observations of audits on a sample of jobs. This research provided information on potential changes to program services and implementation that may lead to increased program savings. The evaluation of 2017 participants is assessing the program process, examining the impacts of program treatments on energy usage and affordability, and surveying customers to assess program satisfaction.

PECO implemented Universal Service Programs to help low-income customers maintain energy services and protect customers’ health and safety. The programs include CAP which provides reduced payments and arrearage forgiveness, LIURP which provides energy efficiency and energy education services, CARES which provides outreach and referral services, and MEAP which provides emergency financial assistance for overdue energy bills. The 2019 evaluation will include review of program procedures and implementation; customer needs assessment; interviews with program managers and implementation partners; customer surveys; and an analysis of the impact of the program on energy affordability, bill payment, collections, and energy usage.

APPRISE is conducting an evaluation of Pepco’s Arrearage Management Pilot Program.  This program will provide arrearage forgiveness to low-income residential customers with arrearages of $300 or more.  The evaluation research will assess program implementation, the characteristics of customers who enroll in the program, and the impact of the program on arrearages, bill payment, and collections actions and collections costs.  The research will include stakeholder interviews; a participant survey; and analysis of program, billing, payment, arrearage, and collections data.

Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) has a portfolio of energy efficiency programs to increase customers’ awareness of energy efficiency opportunities and to reduce energy usage. These programs include offerings for residential customers, low-income customers, and commercial and industrial customers. APPRISE is conducting impact evaluations and market assessments for these programs. The 2018 evaluations are expected to include the Commercial Equipment Rebates Program and the Efficient Construction Grants Program.