RESEARCH ACTIVITIES – Needs Assessment Research 2018-06-14T16:39:51+00:00

Needs Assessment Research

APPRISE conducts needs assessment research to define the size of the eligible program population for bill payment assistance programs, usage reduction programs, and market transformation programs. Needs assessment research can assist policy makers and program managers to allocate resources and more effectively reach and serve the eligible population. Eligible populations may be defined by income, energy burden, household characteristics, and geographic area. Publicly available data sets including the American Community Survey, the American Housing Survey, the Current Population Survey, the Decennial Census, the Residential Energy Consumption Survey, and the Residential Finance Survey are used.

Needs Assessment Activities

  • Eligible population: Estimate the number of eligible households through publicly available data sets.
  • Energy assistance needs: Estimate the energy assistance needs of eligible households and the funding required to serve all eligible households using publicly available data sets.


Needs Assessment Outputs

  • Program eligibility estimates
  • Program participation rates
  • Program funding needs estimates

APPRISE Needs Assessment Research

APPRISE conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Allegheny Power’s Universal Service Programs. The evaluation research included interviews with Allegheny and agency program managers and staff, surveys with participating and nonparticipating customers, analysis of program databases, and analysis of the impacts of the payment assistance program on energy affordability, payment compliance, arrearages, and collections costs.
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.
APPRISE conducted research to assist the Colorado’s Governor’s Commission on Low-Income Energy Assistance to develop recommendations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the state’s low-income energy assistance services. The research included analysis of American Community Survey data, the Colorado LIHEAP database, and the Energy Outreach Colorado database; review and assessment of current LIHEAP procedures and implementation; surveys with participating and non-participating low-income households; and interviews with program managers at the state and agency level.
APPRISE is conducting a comprehensive review of the District of Columbia’s LIHEAP benefit determination procedures and researching strategies for integrating solar benefits with its LIHEAP program. The study includes assessing energy burden among LIHEAP recipients using energy bill data collected for the LIHEAP Performance Measures, conducting pilot research on energy burden for LIHEAP recipients with heating costs included in their rent, and developing an alternative benefit structure that accounts for energy burden while optimizing outcomes across low-income programs offered in the District of Columbia.
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.
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.
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 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 is conducting research for the Office of People’s Counsel to assess the characteristics of the low-income population in Maryland, estimate the need for energy assistance and energy efficiency programs, and provide recommendations for future program design and targeting.  The study will analyze publicly available survey data and MD program-level data to understand trends in the population and the programs that serve them.  The research will increase understanding of the population and inform policy discussions on Maryland low-income energy programs.
APPRISE is conducting research to assess participation and improve outreach for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Fuel Assistance program. The study will combine publicly available survey data and Massachusetts LIHEAP data with program literature and agency interviews to understand opportunities and barriers to increasing program participation. The research furnishes DHCD with data and analysis needed to develop outreach strategies that target underserved segments of the eligible population and increase enrollment.

The Minnesota Conservation Improvement Programs (CIP) portfolios include low-income components to assist income-eligible households with energy conservation. APPRISE conducted research through the Conservation Applied Research & Development (CARD) Grant Program to provide a comprehensive review of the low-income efficiency programs, evaluate the program processes, and assess program policies and guidelines. The goal of the research was to facilitate more effective program operations and policymaking.

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.
APPRISE was the lead contractor for the evaluation of the National Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). APPRISE had three key partners for this effort – Blasnik and Associates, Dahloff Associates, and the Energy Center of Wisconsin, and was also supported by technical experts from across the country. The evaluation consisted of data collection from state WAP offices, local agencies, and participating and nonparticipating clients. Utility data was collected and analyzed for a sample of clients from every state and submetering studies were conducted to assess impacts on clients who use bulk fuels and to conduct special technical studies. The evaluation assessed program operations and delivery, energy impacts, and non-energy impacts, and made recommendations for modifications to program design and delivery
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 Universal Service Fund (USF) program provides fixed credits to eligible low-income families to limit electric and gas bills to six percent of household income. APPRISE conducted a process and impact evaluation of this program. This evaluation provided information on the benefits and costs of the USF program and alternatives for program design and operations. Program evaluation research consisted of administrative interviews, client surveys, program and utility data analysis, and financial data analysis.
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.
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 conducted an evaluation of Peoples Natural Gas Universal Service Programs.  Peoples’ Universal Service Programs provide reduced natural gas bills, arrearage forgiveness, emergency bill payment assistance, energy efficiency services, and case management services to low-income households.  The evaluation assessed the efficiency and effectiveness of these programs through background research, needs assessment research, program administrator interviews, customer surveys, program database analysis, and analysis of the impacts of the program on affordability, bill payment, and collections actions and costs.

PGW’s Customer Responsibility Program provides low-income PGW customers with a reduced bill to increase energy affordability. Their other Universal Service Programs provide energy efficiency services, case management services, and emergency bill payment assistance.  The 2019 evaluation will assess the characteristics of program participants, payment compliance by program participants, and arrearage forgiveness received by program participants. The research will estimate the impact of the program on affordability, payments, and collections actions and costs. Evaluation activities will include interviews with program managers and staff, needs assessment, in-depth interviews with participating customers, and analysis of customer billing, payment, and collections data.

APPRISE conducted a Process and Impact Evaluation of PPL Electric Utilities’ (PPL) Universal Services Programs in 2008 and in 2014. The programs provide energy efficiency services and bill payment assistance to PPL’s low-income customers. The 2014 evaluation included a needs assessment, interviews with program managers and staff, interviews with service delivery agencies, surveys with participating and non-participating customers, and analysis of the impact of the programs on energy affordability and bill payment practices.
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has various programs to provide assistance to low-income and special needs households. These programs include rate discounts, home weatherization services, and bill assistance. SMUD contracted with APPRISE to conduct research on SMUD’s low-income assistance programs. The study included an assessment of the characteristics and needs of SMUD’s low-income population, a benchmark study of low-income assistance programs offered by other utilities and organizations, a review of SMUD’s current low-income programs, and recommendations for program assessment metrics and potential program modifications or additions.
Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) Low Income Weatherization Program provides no-cost energy services to qualified low-income residential customers. The goals of the program are to reduce electric bills, improve safety and comfort, provide energy education to reduce usage and lower bills, and partner with contractors and community organizations in providing these services. APPRISE’s comprehensive evaluation included needs assessment, interviews with program administrators and contractors, a participant survey, on-site inspections of completed jobs, and billing analysis to measure the impacts on energy usage.
APPRISE conducted a statewide survey of LIHEAP-recipient households in Washington to document the challenges that these households face in meeting their energy needs. The Washington State Energy Assistance Survey documented the need for LIHEAP and the choices that low-income households make when faced with unaffordable energy bills. Research showed that LIHEAP plays a significant role in alleviating some of the problems caused by high energy bills. Seventy-one percent of LIHEAP-recipient households said that they would have had to keep their home at an unsafe or unhealthy temperature if LIHEAP had not been available, and 95 percent said that LIHEAP had been very important in helping them to meet their needs. However, a large share of LIHEAP-recipient households in Washington still face difficult choices due to unaffordable energy bills. The survey documented the percentage of these households that go without food or medical care, keep their home at unsafe or unhealthy temperatures, and use dangerous heating methods.