By Meaghan Murphy
Submitted by Leidos
Utility energy efficiency programs are continually tasked with achieving higher energy savings goals, complicated by a shrinking market of participants obtained through traditional marketing tactics. This has sparked interest in more innovative program outreach tactics, with the goal of identifying and engaging new customers. Utilities are finding success by collaborating with community partners who can expand program reach and strengthen customer engagement – components that can be vital to the success of an energy efficiency program’s goals and initiatives.
Best practices in community partnerships
Fostering relationships with community partners provides more authentic customer connections and can amplify the effectiveness of utility outreach efforts. Instead of a one-size-fits-all strategy, tapping into a partners’ core competencies and developing unique approaches allows for creativity in making energy efficiency a more organic approach. Partnerships with community-based organizations, clean energy stakeholders, and trade allies provide utilities with access to untapped customer markets and engagement through a variety of pre-existing touchpoints.
An increasing number of utilities are focusing on providing greater equity within energy efficiency programs to better serve their customers. Whether it’s supporting community-based organizations’ missions or collaborating on an issue, engagement with these partners is a crucial part of connecting with traditionally underserved audiences. Approaching these relationships with an understanding of the partner’s mission is key to successfully incorporating energy efficiency.
Ameren Illinois, with implementation partner Leidos, is working with several community-based organizations to bring energy efficiency to all. A partnership with the Peoria Guild of Black Artists (PGOBA) provides resources and energy efficiency education to Black communities in the Ameren Illinois service territory. They teamed up to create three murals in Peoria as a creative spark for getting people thinking and talking about energy. By employing local artists to create messages tailored to the local community, Ameren Illinois is working on building trust with these customers.
Through another partnership with Senior Services Plus, Ameren Illinois and Leidos are maximizing touchpoints with the traditionally hard-to-reach senior population. Senior Services Plus’s Handyman Program provides low-income seniors the ability to receive repairs in their home at an affordable rate. Ameren Illinois helped expand this program by funding an additional handyman and trained all staff to install Direct Install Measures (including LED bulbs, advanced power strips and faucet aerators) at no additional cost to them. Among the many benefits of this partnership are direct savings on energy bills as well as more widespread energy efficiency education.
As part of Ameren Illinois’ and Leidos’ mission to develop a diverse workforce within the energy efficiency industry, they created an internship program that provides scholarships through community colleges in Illinois to help train the next generation of Construction Management and HVAC professionals. In addition, a partnership with the Minority Business Development Center has helped to train dozens of minority-owned contractors in office services and place jobseekers in energy efficiency careers.
Hawaii Energy and program implementor Leidos work with established nonprofits on their mission of bettering the welfare of underserved residents by implementing programs tailored for low-to-moderate income communities. By providing “boots on the ground” support in these communities, these partnerships help recruit energy efficiency program participants, collect payments for and organize deliveries of new energy-efficient appliances, and follow up with reporting to ensure program targets are met.
Clean energy stakeholders
As more states continue to adopt clean energy goals, higher emphasis will be placed on utility energy efficiency programs’ role in successfully achieving these goals. To support their electrification and clean energy initiatives, many utilities are exploring partnerships with organizations that have coordinated missions. Successful collaboration with clean energy stakeholders provides the opportunity to assess the industry’s landscape, exchange ideas and expertise, and find common ground in achieving mandated environmental goals.
The state of Hawaii has been working on achieving 100 renewable energy generation by 2045. Hawaii Energy and its energy efficiency program implementer, Leidos, are supporting this ambitious goal. With the shared vision of making Hawaii a model clean energy state, Hawaii Energy and Blue Planet Foundation are collaborating on innovative approaches to fight climate change. In partnership, they are working on market transformation efforts, with unique initiatives including in-classroom student presentations, establishing a “Climate Crew” cohort for local high school students interested in learning more about policymaking and advocacy, developing an “Efficiency Unlocked” microsite game, and continued clean energy policy and advocacy work at the state and county level.
Creating partnerships with trade allies within a community – including contractors, architects, engineers, vendors, manufacturers, and retailers – helps support energy efficiency programs in reaching savings goals and portfolio-wide objectives. Strong partnerships with trade allies can increase energy efficiency awareness within a community. In addition, trade allies act as an extension of the program implementation staff – helping customers to complete energy efficiency projects and leverage available utility incentives.
While most utilities recognize the importance of working with trade allies, National Grid and implementer Leidos take a unique approach that delivers greater collaboration. In working with large commercial and industrial customers, projects can be complex – often starting with a facility audit to identify opportunities. National Grid and Leidos invite the trade ally to participate in these audits, discuss areas of focus, uncover potential issues, and gain a greater understanding of how to address customer pain points. Working with the customers’ contractors has resulted in developing credible working relationships that enhance participation in energy efficiency and maximize energy savings.
Building community partnerships provides value to both the utility and the organizations they work with. By leveraging the strength of each partner, this collaboration helps increase knowledge, trust, and resources available to attract new customers and make lasting progress in communities they serve.
With 35 years of experience in the energy industry, Leidos specializes in working with community partners to advance energy efficiency education and inspire action. Our team of experts have extensive experience working with community partners to engage residential, commercial, and industrial customers across utility service territories. For more information on Leidos and our program implementation experience, contact our team.
Leidos is a Fortune 500® technology, engineering, and science solutions and services leader working to solve the world's toughest challenges in the defense, intelligence, civil, and health markets. The company's 44,000 employees support vital missions for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Reston, Va., Leidos reported annual revenues of approximately $13.7 billion for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021. For more information, visit www.Leidos.com.
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