Harder to reach customer segments such as Residential (including Low-Income Housing) and Small Business hold just as much promise, as the District looks to continue being a leader in scaling participation in energy efficiency and renewable energy activities.
While it is often assumed the large and industrial business customer segment holds the most promise in reaching energy savings goals, harder to reach customer segments such as Residential (including Low-Income Housing) and Small Business hold just as much promise as the District looks to continue being a leader in scaling participation in energy efficiency and renewable energy activities.
We learned through the Sustainable Energy for All Action Agenda that there are a combination of sector and enabling ‘Action Areas’ that foster the building of an environment for progress. These action areas have implications for governments, donors and investors, businesses, and civilians or individuals. These actions also focus on increasing participation of the hard-to-reach customer segments. While we acknowledge this is a UN initiative, there are areas that are applicable to the District. The top three enabling action areas that have the greatest impact on attracting low income households and small businesses are:
· Energy Planning and Policy
· Business Model and Technology Innovation
· Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing
Energy planning and policy promotes direct public action and improves the legal and administrative context for successfully engaging the private sector and civil society. The District is well advanced in the planning and policy area as evidenced by D.C. Law 17-250, the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (“CAEA,” D.C. Code Sections 8-1773 et seq.). We see the actions that remain in this area as: reviewing and updating energy targets and plans, creating strong institutional frameworks/governance bodies, and promoting policies that support private investment in sustainable energy technologies as Federal subsidy models subside.
Business model and technology innovation creates efficient structures to increase the consumer’s ability to access renewable energy. Access can be increased by creating attractive incentives for the private sector to pursue decentralized electricity solutions that benefit all residents. Current business models allow utilities to cover the up-front costs of the more efficient energy products and then they recover those costs from users over time. Innovative payment approaches continue to be developed to overcome DC consumers’ resistance to high up-front costs for energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies. Some of these approaches include a lease/sale approach for energy products, pay-as-you-go mobile payments, and engaging local financial institutions in providing financing options for consumers. We understand that a sustainable energy utility needs to be a creative force in maintaining and innovating these approaches. The utility must foster various levels of partnership within the community to promote energy efficiency and address market failures that may prevent low income residents and small businesses from adopting energy-saving technologies, because of their limited resources.
Capacity building and knowledge sharing creates, leverages and adopts successful sustainable energy strategies proven elsewhere for faster replication in the District. That’s where we believe involving partners with successful small and large initiatives is important. Combining that with a credible and in-depth perspective of the District, we believe you can quickly transform our green economy to make it the inclusive clean energy and economic growth engine it is destined to be.