Energy Equity

Affordable Energy for All

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Whether driven by regulation, customer service or utility leadership, energy equity is top of mind for many utilities.

Do any of these issues resonate with you? We can help!

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We want to understand the needs and service gaps for low income households in our service territory
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We need to plan or redesign our energy assistance programs to meet regulatory requirements
Could we be doing better for our low income customers?
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We’re not sure how our energy assistance programs are performing — they need to be evaluated or benchmarked
Our Approach to Energy Equity

Energy Equity, Affordability and Burden

What is Energy Equity? Energy Equity indicates the distribution of costs and benefits of an energy system (e.g. an electric grid) and the accessibility to affordable energy across customers in a region or utility service territory. Low income households pay a larger proportion of their incomes for energy than other customers and addressing their energy burden is beneficial for society as a whole.

But what’s the difference between energy equity and energy burden, energy affordability, energy insecurity or energy poverty? This article explains the lingo.

Utilities as Champions of Affordable Energy

What are energy assistance programs? Why do they need to be delivered by utilities? Energy assistance programs mainly include efficiency services (e.g. weatherization, behavioral programs) and direct monetary assistance (e.g. rate designs, grants or cash discounts). Low income households pay a larger proportion of their incomes for energy than other customers and addressing their energy burden is beneficial for society as a whole. Utilities may have mandates to take on this issue or it may be totally voluntary. But either way, there is no denying that utilities are well-positioned to administer energy assistance programs through their metering, billing and customer program infrastructure.

What are the benefits of energy assistance programs to utilities? Aside from meeting regulatory requirements in some states, the benefits of deploying energy assistance programs to utilities include reduced administrative burden due to late payments and disconnections, enhanced customer satisfaction and concrete community engagement.

Getting Strategic about Energy Equity

Energy assistance programs are often run in silos with different types of programs run by different divisions in a utility. The different phases in a full program deployment are often segregated. Additionally, the energy assistance need is rarely well understood, and program performance is rarely evaluated. When programs are evaluated, the evaluation cycle is sporadic, which blunts its impact.

There’s a better way to deliver energy equity programs.

Energy Equity Flywheel Framework by Empower Dataworks

Read on to learn about our Energy Equity Flywheel framework for addressing energy equity effectively.

The Energy Equity Flywheel

We created the Energy Equity Flywheel for deploying energy assistance programs aimed at addressing energy equity. The framework is based on our experience with program design, evaluation and implementation, and it relies on strong feedback loops between the different modules of an energy assistance strategy.

Each feedback loop tracks specific data points used to drive decisions in other modules of the flywheel. As the flywheel gains momentum and effective communication and reporting processes are put in place, the feedback loops become stronger. Program delivery becomes more streamlined, more customers are served, and program cost-effectiveness improves. The flywheel is then able to keep rolling unless it meets significant resistance from any of the “flywheel brakes”.

Exploring the Flywheel

The following interactive chart (best viewed on a computer or tablet) allows you to explore the Energy Equity Flywheel. Most importantly, each module meaningfully informs the others to ensure effective delivery--it's the blue data connections that make the flywheel magic.

Click around to learn details about specific flywheel components and contact us to chat about your specific energy assistance program needs.

Energy Equity Flywheel Pricing

We price Energy Equity Flywheel services by module (Understand/Evaluate/Design/Implement). We use standard pricing for the different components in the Energy Equity Flywheel and we work with utilities to customize packages that fit within their budgets.

Expected price ranges per module are provided below based on a utility's number of residential meters.

Number of residential meters:
Anticipated Cost per Flywheel Module:

Why pricing by meters? We've found that the number of meters is usually a good measure of the geographical and demographic diversity of the service territory and the complexity of customer programs, which in turn affect the anticipated level of effort. When purchased as a complete package (4 modules), we offer a 20% discount.

Please note these are rough pricing estimates--contact us for a custom quote and scope.

Additional Resources

Energy Burden and Energy Assistance slide deck - June 2020
Quantitative Energy Equity White Paper