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In Conversation With Michael Stockard, on Energy Poverty

February 06, 2020

The Association of Energy Service Professionals is holding their 30th Annual National Conference in Anaheim, California from February 17 to 21, 2020. I will be there making a presentation about the Texas Low- Income Community Profile Series developed by the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute (TEPRI). It’s been my good fortune to have been associated with TEPRI since its founding several years ago. TEPRI’s goals are to improve energy service and support for low- and moderate-income households, reduce their energy burdens, and increase resource efficiency. Energy poverty can be described as a consumer’s lack of access to affordable electric energy or natural gas. For the consumer in a low- or fixed-income situation, they spend a higher percentage of their annual income on energy than others. I will be discussing recent work that TEPRI has completed that gives more granular insights into low- income households throughout Texas and how they view they’re to energy usage.

The study is extremely rich in data, but here are three primary takeaways:

  • The analysis shows that the type of housing, age of respondent, and household composition show the strongest generalized relationships to higher energy burden.
  • People experiencing energy poverty make trade- offs for essentials. The top two reported household necessities skipped or delayed due to utility bills were clothing and food.
  • Awareness of assistance and rebate programs is low across the state. Additionally, across the state respondents reported a lack of perceived ability to reduce energy usage.

The last item is probably the most important finding and most actionable. Consumer engagement and education is the most significant opportunity to improve energy service to low- income consumers. TEPRI hopes that stakeholders can use the results of this study to increase effectiveness of energy efficiency programs, reduce barriers to outreach and education, evaluate policies and funding levels, and foster the implementation of best practices. Future work includes developing an interactive mapping tool to visualize data by geography or utility service territory for easy and useful integration into stakeholder processes. If you are attending the Conference, please sit in on this session where I will be sharing additional insights into energy poverty in the State of Texas.

Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 39 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.

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