RESEARCH ACTIVITIES – Economic and Policy Analysis 2017-10-04T15:13:39+00:00

Economic and Policy Analysis

APPRISE utilizes an array of research and analysis methods to provide information and recommendations to program administrators and decision-makers.

Economic and Policy Analysis Activities

  • Literature Review: Analysis of data sources including academic journals, professional conference proceedings, and literature for background information on policy issues.
  • Public Use Data Analysis: Use of publicly available data to explore policy issues and provide data about policy problems.
  • Policy Options Analysis: Review of program design options and outcomes.
  • Economic Impacts Analysis: Analysis of a program’s impact on the economic activity in the state, region, or other geographic area.

APPRISE Economic and Policy Analysis

Atlantic City Electric and Delmarva Power, electric utility companies serving customers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, asked APPRISE to present data on low-income energy poverty issues affecting customers in their service territory at a conference for community action agency personnel. APPRISE utilized Census, Current Population Survey, and American Housing Survey data to produce statistics that highlighted these issues.
APPRISE developed information on the energy needs of California’s low-income utility customers using public data sets including the Current Population Survey and the 2000 Census. The study results will be used to set policy for the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program and the Low-Income Energy Efficiency (LIEE) Program.
The State of Colorado has implemented a new Energy $ervices, First Response program targeted to low-income households with average or below average levels of electricity and gas consumption. This program aims to reinforce energy efficient behaviors and help low-income households to reduce their energy consumption. Prior to implementation, APPRISE conducted research on the service delivery models for high-volume, low-cost services that have been implemented in other states. This 2006 memo furnishes information on the program models and the organizations and/or vendors who implemented the programs and makes recommendations to Colorado regarding the applicability of these models to the Energy $ervices, First Response program.
APPRISE is conducting research for the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board to explore existing NEI values nationally, regionally, and for CT; gaps in existing CT NEI data; and survey research and data analysis that can address NEI measurement.  The research will include implementation of a program participant survey for one priority program or measure.  The study will explore and assess the current state of the art for measuring NEIs both nationally and regionally, where and how NEIs are used in calculating the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency programs, how the inclusion of NEIs has impacted energy efficiency programs across the U.S., the best available estimates of the NEIs for CT programs and measures, and how NEIs could be measured and incorporated in future CT evaluations.
The 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) is a national survey that collected energy-related data for occupied housing units and households. The Office of Community Services (OCS) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funded a special set of questions for low-income households responding to the 2005 RECS. Those questions collected information on residential and home energy-related problems faced by low-income households and measured the extent to which households reported that participation in LIHEAP helped to ameliorate those problems. APPRISE conducted an exploratory analysis of the 2005 RECS data for OCS to develop a better understanding of the performance of the survey questions and to develop new information on the Energy Insecurity of low-income households, including:

  • Levels and Types of Energy Insecurity – Estimation of the rate at which low-income households face various types of energy problems and examination of survey respondent reports on the extent to which energy assistance restores home heating and cooling for households experiencing service interruptions.
  • Factors Related to Energy Insecurity – An analysis of the factors associated with energy problems including poverty level, energy burden, geographic region and other demographic and housing factors.
  • Performance of the Home Energy Insecurity Scale – An assessment of the performance of the Home Energy Insecurity Scale in measuring the impacts of energy costs on low-income households compared to other Energy Insecurity measures used in the past.
The purpose of this study was to assist DDOE’s review of its LIHEAP design and to make recommendations for program modifications. This study assessed DDOE’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 DDOE with information needed to modify its program benefits design matrix in a way that meets the statutory guidance furnished to DDOE by the federal LIHEAP program.
The purpose of this study was to assist DDOE’s efforts to mitigate the rising energy costs on those with the highest home energy needs, greatest energy burdens, and least amount of available resources. The study focused on households that pay utility gas and/or electric bills, and are income-eligible and program-eligible for rate discounts. The study characterized the population of households that are eligible for rate discounts, estimated the rate discount program penetration rates, and analyzed how the rate discounts complement the LIHEAP program to reduce energy burdens for participating households.
Vermont has a number of energy programs that make important contributions to reductions in electricity usage in all sectors and reductions of fossil fuel usage among low-income households. However, Vermont is missing important opportunities for energy savings because there is a program gap with respect to fossil fuel usage by households that are not low-income and fossil fuel usage in the commercial and industrial end-use sectors. This 2006 memo presents the status of energy usage in Vermont, describes existing programs, and discusses opportunities for future programs.
The National Low Income Energy Consortium (NLIEC) has begun to produce information that enhances knowledge and casts public attention upon the low-income residential energy issues and hardships facing the particular region in which their annual conference is held. In 2005, NLIEC asked APPRISE to conduct an analysis of energy poverty throughout Arizona, in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, and in specific Phoenix-area neighborhoods. APPRISE used Census, Current Population Survey, and American Housing Survey data to produce this information, which was presented at the annual conference in Phoenix and compiled for a report on energy poverty in Arizona.
APPRISE conducted a survey with households across the U.S. to examine the extent to which increased home energy and gasoline costs have impacted these households and how they have coped with increased prices. The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of the sacrifices and tradeoffs that low-, moderate-, and middle-income households have made in response to rising fuel costs. Households were asked about beneficial behaviors such as energy conservation and investment in more efficient appliances, and about dangerous sacrifices such as going without food and medicine and keeping the home at unsafe temperatures. The study showed that increased home energy and gasoline costs have impacted households at all income levels. Low-income households, as expected, have sacrificed the most as a result of these price increases. Low- to middle-income households are likely to have gone without food and medicine and to have compromised their energy usage. Low- to moderate-income households are likely to have missed energy bill payments and even have their service terminated. They are also likely to have gotten behind on credit card bills, mortgage or rent, and car payments. All income groups however, have reduced discretionary spending, driving, and heating and cooling usage. All income groups have also made investments in more energy efficient heating, cooling, and appliances to bring down their costs.
The purpose of the LIHEAP Feasibility Study is to support the Division of Energy Assistance in their development of program outcome measures and to identify options for developing annual estimates of the proposed outcome measures. As part of the study, APPRISE conducted a literature review of existing data sources and performed an in-depth examination of three options for furnishing LIHEAP performance measurement data. These options were (1) working within the context of the existing data sources, (2) replacing the existing data sources with other existing Federal and/or State surveys, and (3) developing a new survey specifically designed to furnish LIHEAP performance measurement data.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is one of seven block grants originally authorized by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981. In 1994, the purpose of the LIHEAP statute was amended to clarify that the program is “to assist low income households, particularly those with the lowest income, that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, primarily in meeting their immediate home energy needs.”

Furthermore, Congressional Committees indicated in 1994 that LIHEAP grantees needed to reassess their LIHEAP benefit structures to ensure that they are targeting those low income households that have the highest energy costs or needs. The purpose of this evaluation study was to assess to what extent the LIHEAP program is serving the lowest income households that have the highest energy burdens. The study uses data from the 2001 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) to examine the distribution of income and energy burden for low income households and identify those that have the lowest incomes and highest energy burdens (i.e., high burden households). The study uses the 2001 RECS LIHEAP Supplement to measure the effectiveness of the FY 2001 LIHEAP program in serving high burden households. The study quantifies program effectiveness using targeting performance measures. The study also identifies procedures for updating energy burden targeting performance statistics in the future.

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 focuses on the home energy mission of LIHEAP by providing 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.
APPRISE supported NCAT in the LIHEAP Integrity Working Group Project. This working group identified LIHEAP program integrity issues, researched program integrity systems used by LIHEAP grantees, identified areas where additional guidance was needed from federal agencies, and identified best practices and solutions for improving program integrity. APPRISE facilitated working group meetings and supported NCAT in the development of a strategic work plan.
APPRISE previously worked with the federal LIHEAP office to develop a performance measurement plan for targeting heating assistance to households with vulnerable members and a logic model to support that performance measurement plan. APPRISE also developed a separate model to examine the targeting of elderly households. APPRISE then extended the logic models to address all LIHEAP program components including cooling assistance, crisis assistance, home energy-related equipment repair and replacement, weatherization, and Assurance 16 activities. APPRISE also developed a logic model for targeting LIHEAP income-eligible households with at least one young child. The final report recommended an integrated strategy for implementing all of the logic models.
APPRISE provides program support to the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is a federally funded program to help eligible low-income households meet their home heating and cooling needs. The Division of Energy Assistance in the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services, administers LIHEAP at the federal level. APPRISE assists both the federal LIHEAP office and state LIHEAP offices in developing performance measurement data and other statistics needed to effectively administer the program.
APPRISE is assisting the Federal LIHEAP Office in completing their annual Report to Congress. This report, required by Congressional reporting requirements, summarizes data collected on home energy use and households assisted under LIHEAP. The report includes state-level data on the number and characteristics of households that received heating, cooling, and crisis assistance; the sources and uses of LIHEAP funds, average benefit amounts, and income eligibility cutoffs; and the home energy consumption and expenditures of LIHEAP-recipient households.
This study examined and compared alternative procedures for estimating the recipiency targeting performance measurement indicators used by the LIHEAP program to measure program performance. The “recipiency targeting index” for a specific group of households is computed by comparing the percent of LIHEAP households that are members of the target group to the percent of all income-eligible households that are members of the target group. The study showed that CPS data are the best data source for making estimates of the number of LIHEAP income-eligible households and the administrative data are the best data source for making estimates of LIHEAP recipient households.
APPRISE is furnishing technical support to the Division of Energy Assistance in the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services. As part of this support, APPRISE is assisting in the development of performance measurement procedures that address deficiencies outlined in the 2003 PART Assessment for the LIHEAP Program. APPRISE annually develops State-level targeting performance data that indicate the extent to which States targeted energy assistance to low-income and vulnerable households.
APPRISE is conducting research for the Environmental Defense Fund to document low-income energy efficiency (LIEE) programs in four states and around the country.  The research will assess the state-level policy and program design changes that are necessary to overcome barriers and fully realize the benefits of low-income energy efficiency.  The topics that will be explored include the Regulatory and Program Structure of LIEE offerings, Barriers to and Potential for Investment in Low-Income Energy Efficiency, Best Practices for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs, and Policies and Financing Mechanisms.  The report will answer three core questions: 1) How does the current regulatory and program structure of LIEE offerings in each state impact the scale, speed, and efficiency of deployment, 2) What are the specific barriers to deploying LIEE to levels approaching its potential, and 3) What are some of the best practices for LIEE program design, marketing, reporting to expand LIEE in each target state.
The purpose of this study was to furnish comprehensive information on ratepayer-funded low-income energy programs. The report includes information on and analysis of the energy needs of low-income households, the legal and regulatory framework supporting ratepayer-funded programs, program design options, and the findings from evaluations of program effectiveness.
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 conducted surveys of LIHEAP recipients in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011. APPRISE recently conducted a survey of 2011 recipients to update information about LIHEAP-recipient households that was collected in the previous surveys. These surveys documented changes in the affordability of energy bills, the need for LIHEAP, and the choices that low-income households make when faced with unaffordable energy bills. The 2011 Survey interviewed recipients in 13 states. Stratified samples of fiscal year 2011 LIHEAP recipients were chosen from each of the 13 state LIHEAP databases. The study characterized the LIHEAP population for 2011 and documented the challenges that these households face in addition to their energy bills, including unemployment, lack of health insurance, and medical issues.
APPRISE supported the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) in research to assess the economic impacts of New Jersey’s Clean Energy Programs. APPRISE’s work included a survey with participants in New Jersey’s Clean Energy program to assess market characteristics, qualify the nature and number of jobs created in New Jersey, and to better understand the State’s clean energy economy. The project also included in-depth interviews with companies that participate in New Jersey’s Clean Energy economy to develop additional information on the perception of these programs and future clean energy plans.
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.
APPRISE conducted research to characterize the low- and moderate- income populations in New York State, to estimate the impact of existing programs that target these populations, and to identify opportunities for future program outreach and targeting.  This study analyzed publically-available population, housing, and energy data; program data; and specialty data on health indicators, population mobility, and economic characteristics.  The research provided the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and program partners throughout the New York State government with comprehensive information that can be used to improve program models, estimate program potential, and measure program accomplishments.
The Ohio Department of Development, Office of Energy Efficiency, has implemented programs funded by the Universal Service Fund. Participating customers receive cost-effective energy efficiency services and education targeted at reducing electric usage. APPRISE conducted a Process Evaluation of this program. The work included review of all program documents; interviews with program managers, staff, and contractors; observation of service delivery; customer surveys; contractor surveys; and economic analysis of the impacts of the program on Ohio’s economy.
South Jersey Gas has been operating energy efficiency programs in coordination with the New Jersey Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) since 2009. The programs provide additional rebates and financing to customers who participate in the NJCEP residential and commercial and industrial programs. APPRISE conducted an evaluation of these programs to assess program design, implementation, and impacts. The research included interviews with program administrators, contractors, and participants; surveys with participants of three different programs; analysis of the impacts of the programs on natural gas usage; and assessment of the non-energy impacts of the programs.
APPRISE conducted research to assist Washington’s Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development to assess low-income household needs for energy conservation and energy assistance services. The research included an analysis of the fuels used, energy costs, and energy burden for low-income households in WA; documentation of current energy prices and assistance programs offered by utility companies in WA; and recommendations for the types of energy assistance programs that may best meet the needs that are documented in the study.