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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:

  • 2020 National Energy & Utility Affordability Conference (NEUAC) – Virtual Conference, August 4-5, 2020
  • 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) – Virtual Conference,  August 17-21, 2020
  • 2020 Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) Summer Conference & Expo – Virtual Conference, September 1-3, 2020
  • 2020 Behavior, Energy, & Climate Change Conference – Virtual Conference, December 7-10, 2020
  • 2021 Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) Annual Conference – New Orleans, LA, January 25-28, 2021
  • 2021 Home Performance Conference – Austin, TX, April 12-15, 2021
  • 2021 National Energy & Utility Affordability Conference (NEUAC) – Location TBD, June 2021

CURRENT RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

Ameren’s Keeping Current Program provides monthly bill credits and arrearage reduction for customers who continue to make monthly bill payments.  Their Keeping Cooling Program provides bill credits in the summer months to offset the costs of air conditioning usage.  APPIRSE has conducted four process and impact evaluations of the program.  These evaluations assessed program design, implementation, participation, retention, and impacts, and made recommendations for program improvements.

APPRISE is now undertaking a program design study to assess alternative bill payment designs and make recommendations for refinement or redesign of Ameren’s program.  This study will assess program goals, explore options for program parameters, analyze the outcomes of various program designs, review best practices, and make recommendations for changes to Ameren’s program.

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.

APPRISE is conducting a study on the non-energy benefits (NEBs) of the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program.   The ESA Program provides no-cost direct installed weatherization and energy efficiency measures to achieve energy savings and improved health, comfort and safety for eligible low-income households served by the IOUs in CA.  This study will review and verify the NEBs proposed in a previous study, and develop a streamlined model for estimating the value of the NEBs.

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 reviewed DOEE’s LIHEAP design and made recommendations for program modifications in 2018. This study assessed DOEE’s LIHEAP procedures, analyzed the population of households eligible for energy assistance, and calculated the impacts of the assistance on participants’ energy burden. The study furnished DOEE with information needed to modify its program benefits design matrix in a way that meets the statutory guidance furnished to DOEE by the federal LIHEAP program.

As a result of the 2018 study, DOEE modified its LIHEAP program benefits design matrix.  APPRISE is now working with DOEE to calculate the impact of those changes on participants’ energy burden, update analyses of households eligible for energy assistance, and assess how best to integrate DOEE’s Solar for All program with the LIHEAP program.

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: Non-profit 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 Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) EmPOWER Limited-Income Programs install energy efficiency measures and perform related repairs to help participants reduce energy usage and improve their health and safety.  APPRISE is providing consulting services on the Single-Family Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP) and the Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability Program (MEEHA).  The work scope includes advising DHCD on the design and delivery of these programs, reviewing DHCD’s proposed plans, reviewing cost-effectiveness inputs and assumptions, and assessing performance metrics.

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.

The NJ Comfort Partners Program provides no-cost energy efficiency services to low-income utility customers throughout the state. The 2020 evaluation will review program changes that were made since the 2017 evaluation, estimate energy savings with a billing analysis, review and make recommendations for changes to the Energy Saving Protocols, and conduct targeted on-site inspections of completed jobs.

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.

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 NEWS

July was an exciting month for APPRISE as we welcomed two new policy analysts, Thomas Hanes and Abbey Waugh.

Thomas Hanes received a B.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics from Wesleyan University in 2020. Tom brings a background in economic research and data analysis to APPRISE.

Abbey Waugh received a B.A. in Environmental Science and Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. She brings to APPRISE a background in public policy research and survey research.

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