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Utility Programs Can Help Low-Income Customers

Utility programs can help low-income customers
keep the lights on, but some do better than others

By Ariel Drehobl

The following is an excerpt from an ACEEE blog post, which can be found at http://bit.ly/utilities-helping:

As households ramp up air conditioners to stay cool this summer, many will find themselves with higher energy bills. Paying these bills will be easier for some than for others. Low-income households, who spend on average three times more of their income on energy bills than other households, will undoubtedly find it more difficult to adjust to higher bills in both the summer and winter months.

Many households can address high energy burdens by taking advantage of energy efficiency programs run by their utilities. These programs provide multiple benefits beyond energy and bill savings, such as fewer shut offs, healthier homes, less outdoor pollution, and more local jobs.

To better understand the scope and reach of low-income energy efficiency programs, ACEEE completed a new baseline assessment of the electric and natural gas programs that specifically target low-income households in the largest US cities. The assessment complements previous ACEEE research that explored best practice elements for low-income utility programs. This paper examines total investments in these programs, energy savings impacts, customer participation, and utilization of best practices for more than 70 utilities low-income programs. The paper also includes data tables that chronicle this information for each utility…

To read the report, “Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs: A Baseline Assessment of Programs Serving the 51 Largest Cities,” please visit bit.ly/aceee-baseline .

Ariel Drehobl, Research Analyst, Local Policy, for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit aceee.org

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