RESEARCH ACTIVITIES – Data Tracking Research 2017-08-16T17:09:33+00:00

Data Tracking Research

  • Needs Assessment Research: Assessment of the requirements for the data tracking system, including system users and information needs. Three key areas that are addressed are program management and operations, program reporting, and program evaluation.
  • Documentation of Existing Tracking Systems: Research on the content and quality of the existing data systems.
  • Assessment of Existing Tracking Systems: Analysis of the consistency, sufficiency, accessibility, accuracy, and efficiency of the existing data systems.
  • Recommendations for New or Enhanced Tracking System: Recommendations for data to be included in the system, reports to be generated by the system, and accessibility of the system.

Data Tracking Activities

  • Program Manager Interviews: In-depth interviews with program managers to determine information needs and current data system structure and content.
  • Operations Staff Interviews: In-depth interviews with operations staff to determine current data sources and data needs.
  • Database Review: Review of current program databases through the use of manuals, on-site observation, and data systems.

Data Tracking Outputs

  • Documentation of data system
  • Documentation of available information and data
  • Analysis of data tracking needs
  • Recommendations for data tracking modifications

APPRISE Data Tracking Projects

Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation implemented new energy efficiency initiatives in 2006 to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. The initiatives include a First Response Program to provide low-cost, cost-effective energy efficiency measures and education and an E$P Plus Initiative to provide heating system and other appliance replacement. APPRISE provided evaluation research on these new programs and additional research on Colorado’s ongoing E$P weatherization services.
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.
Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company offer a Home Energy Assistance (HEA) Program to assist the poorest households in their service territories least able to afford to pay their energy bills. Funded by ratepayers and shareholders, the programs (structured differently by company) provide fixed monthly credits to LIHEAP participants. APPRISE conducted a comprehensive HEA assessment to analyze the program management, availability, and customer participation; assess impacts on payments, arrearages, collections actions, and weatherization participation; and make recommendations for program improvement.
APPRISE is working with The Division of Energy Assistance in the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services, to develop a web-based data tool. The web-based data tool will standardize the experience of LIHEAP grantees in entering performance data; improve the data quality by implementing a set of item-to-item, form-to-form, and year-to-year data checks; enhance the user help interface by providing online screens and real time help desk support; and allow LIHEAP grantees to utilize standard and custom reporting tools. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a system that facilitates the collection of high-quality performance measurement data for the LIHEAP program.
The Comfort Partners Program is a statewide collaborative utility residential low-income program, providing joint delivery of services through electric and gas utilities. Participating customers receive direct installation of energy efficiency measures, energy education, and payment plans aimed to reduce arrearages. APPRISE conducted a comprehensive evaluation of this program, including a Process Evaluation and analysis of the program’s data tracking system, the comprehensiveness of service delivery, and the impacts on energy usage and bill payment.
The NJ Comfort Partners Program provides no-cost energy efficiency services to low-income utility customers throughout the state. APPRISE conducted a comprehensive evaluation of this program. The Data Tracking Research assessed the comprehensiveness, sufficiency, and accuracy of the program database. The Process Evaluation included review and assessment of materials and procedures; interviews with utility managers; interviews and on-site observations at service delivery contractors; on-site observation of audits, installations, and third party inspections; and post-completion inspections of program installations. The Affordability Evaluation included a telephone survey with program participants and analysis of the program’s impact on affordability of energy bills and participation in the NJ Universal Service Fund program. The Impact Evaluation included analysis of program data, engineering impact analysis, usage impact analysis, and savings realization analysis. The Energy Savings Protocols Research included review and assessment of protocols currently in use to estimate program savings.
APPRISE assessed the fiscal integrity and operational efficiency of the NJ LIHEAP and USF Programs. This research included an assessment of the performance of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Division of Housing and Community Resources (DHCR), Office of Home Energy Assistance (OHEA) and an assessment of the operations of the LIHEAP and USF programs. We reviewed program documents, and conducted interviews with HHS LIHEAP compliance staff, DCA management, USF managers at the NJ Board of Public Utilities, and managers at Community Based Organizations that administer the programs. We also reviewed program databases and statistics, conducted on-site interviews and observations with a sample of local agencies, and conducted a survey with LIHEAP recipients.
The New Jersey Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral for Energy Services (NJ SHARES) is a nonprofit corporation organized to provide assistance to individuals and families living in New Jersey who are in need of temporary help paying their energy bills. APPRISE conducts an annual impact evaluation of the New Jersey SHARES program. The evaluation includes analysis of administrative and utility data to assess the program’s impact on maintenance of electric and gas service and on energy bill payment.  Some of the previous evaluations also included surveys and in-depth participant interviews to assess whether the crises had been resolved, what additional assistance was needed, and the interest and potential for energy efficiency program participation.   APPRISE also serves as an advisor to the NJ SHARES Board of Directors.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) created the Universal Service Fund (USF) to help low- and fixed-income residents pay for electric and natural gas service. The BPU staff is responsible for developing policies and procedures for implementation of the USF program. As part of those responsibilities, the staff developed a Data Tracking System that can furnish the information that the BPU needs to manage and evaluate the effectiveness of the USF program. APPRISE developed a draft set of specifications and an implementation plan for the USF Data Tracking System. The specifications identify the information needed for three purposes: operations, regulatory oversight, and evaluation. The implementation plan identifies the process by which detailed specifications will be developed and the schedule for implementing different components of the Data Tracking System.
UGI’s Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP) provides no-cost energy efficiency services to low-income customers in its service territory. APPRISE conducted a Process and Impact Evaluation of this program. The research included review and assessment of program materials and procedures, on-site interviews with UGI managers and staff, in-depth telephone interviews with a sample of program participants, and analysis of the program’s impact on the energy usage of participating customers.