10 Key Ideas for Equitable Access to Sustainable Energy

I recently had an opportunity to speak at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Regulatory Attorneys, on the topic of energy programs for low- and moderate-income customers and communities.
You can download my presentation at this link.
And here are my 10 Key Ideas:
  1. The solution set should be as big as the problem - the statistics tell us that 30%, or more, of customers are low- and moderate-income. This is structural, not anecdotal.
  2. Milestones set the minimum passing grade - so, we need to aim higher and we need more ambitious milestones. (6% household energy burden - the new goal for NY - is still a very high burden!).
  3. If you have to adjust your process to reach a third of all customers, you didn't set your design right - we have yet to design or implement a restructuring or other market transformation process that is truly focused on customers.
  4. You can't reach all people the same way, you might not be able to reach them at all, but someone can. We need to socialize, not privatize, customer engagement.
  5. Good tools come with good user manuals (videos). We need to invest in good user manuals if we want programs to succeed.
  6. Hard to serve also means hard to restore - resilience has premium locational value in disadvantaged neighborhoods. There is a lot to learn in developing a “value of savings” and “value of service” methodology for LMI customers and neighborhoods.
  7. Many great opportunities are hiding in plain sight - chattering window air conditioners, tin foil taped on the inside of Windows, cracking buzzing security lights. We have a real problem in delivery and execution.
  8. Efficiency and affordability advocates are a single people separated by a common language. We talk about the same things and it just sounds different. We need to sit down together more often - and you should seek larger, not smaller, conversations.
  9. Transformation of the wholesale system is good, but transformation of retail is what really matters. The so-called “organized market reform” proposals from coal and nuke plant owner/operators sounds like stranded cost bailouts.
  10. We know how to make sure that our efforts don’t succeed - and we have accepted failure because we won’t confront the real problems. The real problems include poor and increasingly regressive rate design, RIM test for so-called cost-effectiveness, crisis response to systemic problems, the subtle bigotry of low expectations in energy efficiency, community solar, and other clean energy programs.