Expanding Energy Efficiency Programs to Hard-to-Reach Markets

Utility programs targeting underserved populations generally performing well

One of the goals of the Council's Seventh Power Plan was to ensure that all cost-effective energy efficiency measures are acquired and identify ways to improve participation from underserved populations--rural, low-mid income, and small businesses, etc.

The Council, working with the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon, several investor-owned utilities, and several public utilities, completed an analysis on these underserved markets and staff briefed the Council's power committee on their findings and recommendations.

In general, the region's utilities are doing a good job of reaching a wide variety of customer groups. Programs that target specific groups, low income or owners of manufactured homes, for example, are performing well as long as the programs continue operating. The multifamily housing segment and small business customers are somewhat underserved, according to the data.

The study confirms the effectiveness of targeted programming and recommends expanding programs for the multifamily and renter segments. The study also demonstrates that the data on demographic and service territory populations are readily accessible and can be used, along with program participant data, to understand and monitor how well programs are performing.

The results of the study will be released for public comment later this spring and will be presented at the upcoming Efficiency Exchange and Northwest Regional Economic Conference in May.