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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 Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change (BECC) Conference – Sacramento, CA, November 17-20, 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
  • 2020 National Energy & Utility Affordability Conference (NEUAC) – Washington, DC, June 29 – July 1, 2020
  • 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) – Pacific Grove, CA,  August 16-21, 2020

APPRISE NEWS

Oregon Housing and Community Service Department
Energy Assistance Program Evaluation

APPRISE is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the energy assistance programs managed by the Oregon Housing and Community Service Department.

Research objectives include assessing the impact, marketing, outreach, and accessibility of current LIHEAP and ratepayer-funded energy assistance programs; and evaluating the effectiveness of current and alternative program delivery models.

As part of this evaluation, APPRISE is conducting organizational research, a market assessment study, a participant survey, in-depth interviews, and a quantitative impact assessment.

In addition, APPRISE is implementing a community-based participatory research approach to engage local and state community organizations as research partners. Community research partners will provide input and assist in outreach and data collection efforts with members of underserved populations.

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.

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.
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 is conducting an evaluation of the Illinois Solar for All Program which will bring photovoltaic power to low-income and environmental justice communities throughout Illinois and create a long-term, low-income solar marketplace.

The ILSFA Program has four key components.

  • Low-Income Distributed Generation: Single- and multi-family residential properties occupied by low-income households can receive incentives for new solar generation systems.
  • Low-Income Community Solar: Low-income owners and renters can buy or lease a share of the solar system and receive credits on their utility bills for the energy produced by their share of the system.
  • Incentives for Non-Profits and Public Facilities: Nonprofit organizations and public entities within environmental justice communities or low-income communities can receive incentives for new solar generation systems.
  • Low-Income Community Solar Pilot Projects: Projects with community partnerships and ownership will be awarded based on a competitive procurement approach.

The evaluation will include analysis of community outreach, system cost and production, environmental and economic benefits, impacts on participants’ energy costs and burden, job training, and system reliability.

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.
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. 

National Fuel Gas provides bill payment assistance, energy efficiency services, emergency bill payment assistance, and holistic case management services to assist low-income customers. APPRISE is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of these programs. The research includes analysis of program data, interviews with program managers and staff, interviews with service delivery agencies and contractors, in-depth interviews with program participants, and analysis of the impacts of bill payment assistance on energy affordability, bill payment, arrearages, service terminations, and collections costs.

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.
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.

APPRISE is conducting a Process and Impact Evaluation of PPL Electric Utilities’ (PPL) Universal Services Programs. The programs provide bill payment assistance and energy efficiency services to PPL’s low-income customers. The 2020 evaluation includes a needs assessment, interviews with program managers and staff, interviews with service delivery agencies, surveys with participating customers, and analysis of the impact of the programs on energy affordability and bill payment practices.

PSE&G implemented a low-income multi-family smart thermostat pilot program in their New Jersey service territory in 2018. The program installed Nest, Honeywell, and Ecobee thermostats in 943 units within 16 projects, half of which also received a network solution for connectivity. APPRISE is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of this pilot program. The research includes market characterization to assess the potential for expanded implementation; interviews with property managers, implementation staff, and building managers; a quantitative survey with program participants; and a usage impact analysis to estimate the impact of the program on electric and gas usage.