Projects: Equitable Program Offerings
Program Equity Assessment
MCE contracted with Apex to identify opportunities for their EE programs to better serve their residential customer base, particularly low- and moderate-income customers and others that have traditionally been underserved by EE offerings. Apex began by undertaking a demographic analysis to identify high-priority areas in MCE’s service territory. We identified clusters of Census tracts that ranked the highest for energy burden and/or environmental burden (as defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s composite CalEnviroScreen score). We then compared program uptakes in these areas and MCE’s larger service territory.
We presented our findings to a community advisory committee comprising representatives from community organizations serving the populations living in the identified high-priority areas. The committee’s role was to ensure the perspectives of the populations the study sought to understand, and MCE’s programs hoped to serve, were represented throughout the research process. The committee’s feedback helped to refine our demographic analysis and the committee informed the targeted, qualitative research that built on that initial analysis. Apex conducted targeted, qualitative research to understand the needs, motivations, barriers, and opportunities for programs to serve MCE customers in the areas identified in the demographic analysis. These efforts included:
A survey of customer households, administered online with invitations distributed through social media.
Structured ride-along observations with program implementation staff delivering MCE’s residential middle-income direct installation program. Bilingual Apex staff observed interactions between program staff to gain insight on participants’ response to the program and the needs in their homes.
In-depth interviews with owners and managers of multifamily buildings and rental properties to understand the perspectives and decision-making processes.
Low-Income Program Review
Apex conducted a jurisdictional review of low-income programs to review common challenges these programs face and identify effective practices that could be incorporated into the client offerings. The review explored topics including program design, best practices for implementation, and collaboration with local agencies and utilities. The jurisdictional review was supplemented with stakeholder interviews of utilities and the community agencies involved with the program as well as the members of the Low Income Working Group. The interviews addressed the research questions to identify opportunities to improve and expand the program. Additionally, we analyzed participant demographics in comparison to eligible participants to identify gaps in participation.