RESEARCH ACTIVITIES – Technical Assistance 2018-06-14T16:56:26+00:00

Technical Assistance

APPRISE provides technical assistance to program managers and policymakers to help them make informed policy decisions when designing and refining public programs. Our extensive experience with energy programs is invaluable to program managers, and our data analysis skills and knowledge of available databases provide critical information for program management and analysis. Our objective position allows us to assist in the development of information for program standards and benefit determination.

Technical Assistance Outputs

  • Policy options comparisons: descriptions of various policy options, how they have been applied in other jurisdictions, and advantages and disadvantages of each option.
  • Spreadsheet tools: spreadsheets to assist program managers in analyzing the predicted energy savings and estimated cost-effectiveness of various energy services packages.
  • Evaluation requirements: descriptions of potential analysis techniques and data needed to accurately estimate program impacts.
  • Energy costs standards: statistics on average energy costs by fuel type and household size.
  • Program recommendations: recommendations for improvements in program performance.

APPRISE Technical Assistance

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.
Many low-income usage reduction programs are facing increasing challenges serving customers due to the prevalence of health and safety problems that prevent major measures from being installed.  As a result of serious issues in the home, customers must be deferred or are treated with only minor services, and high-usage customer with good potential for savings do not participate or only achieve low energy savings.  This research assessed the circumstances under which additional cost-effective health and safety spending can be invested to achieve greater savings for low-income customers and the program as a whole.
FirstEnergy offers a Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP) and Act 129 Low-Income Programs to assist low-income customers. The programs provide energy efficiency and energy education services, help low-income customers maintain electric service, and protect customers’ health and safety. APPRISE conducted a study to assess recent program changes, and to provide guidance to FirstEnergy on future tracking, reporting, and process improvements. The research included an assessment of what changes should be made to program procedures, whether additional measures should be added, and how projected energy savings for additional energy efficiency measures should be calculated.
As part of the Green Lights program, participants agree to submit reports on lighting upgrades so that EPA can estimate the total impact of the program. There was concern by EPA that not all lighting upgrades were being reported and that the reporting system was a burden to program participants. In this project, we conducted research to determine the satisfaction of program participants with program procedures, determine the level of underreporting, make estimates of unreported program accomplishments, and design an alternative reporting system. This research showed that the recognition received by Green Lights program participants was important for some participants. It also showed that detailed reports were overly burdensome for some partners. We developed a simplified data collection system and statistical models to estimate energy savings from the more limited data.
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.
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 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.
APPRISE has provided estimates of energy costs by fuel type and household size for low-income households in New York for the New York Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) office. These estimates were used in New York’s LIHEAP Statewide Annual Energy Cost Standard by Primary Fuel Type that is used in the NY HEAP benefits tables.
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.
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.
WE Energies has implemented a set of energy efficiency programs that target different segments of the commercial and industrial market (Prescriptive, Custom, RFP, New Construction, and Multi-Family). APPRISE conducted research to determine whether WE Energies can improve program performance by enhancing program marketing or refining program tools and/or incentives. The scope of work consisted of benchmarking research to determine whether WE Energies was underperforming in any market segments or energy-saving opportunities, program database analysis to document program statistics, and in-depth client and trade ally interviews to understand how well the program was working and whether there were changes in program design and/or implementation that could improve program performance.