The 2018 Annual NEUAC Conference was held this week in Phoenix, Arizona. From June 25 through June 28, utility representatives and non-profit members, among others, attended workshops and exhibits that highlighted issues and solutions to helping low-income energy consumers become self-sufficient. The National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA) also hosted their annual membership meeting June 24 through June 25, followed by a half-day new director’s training.

The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC), is a non-profit coalition of diverse member organizations and individuals dedicated to heightening awareness of the energy needs of low-income energy consumers and fostering public-private partnerships while engaging in other activities to help address those needs.

Led by a dedicated group of directors, NEUAC’s goals are to increase awareness and understanding of the nature and magnitude of low-income energy problems, to formulate and advance low-income energy policy through compilation, analysis and dissemination of data and information, to provide information and technical assistance in the creation and development of fuel funds and to promote development of statewide and regional funds.

There were a variety of workshops provided, addressing issues, solutions, and ideas in helping low-income energy consumers become self-sufficient.

Workshop topics at the conference included: Vulnerable Populations, Energy Efficiency and Renewables, Energy Policy and Advocacy, Tribal and Other Issues, Energy Assistance and Education, emerging issues and water affordability and Utilities and Regulations.

Within these workshops were a variety of detailed sessions related to each workshop topic. Some of these sessions included:

Understanding LIHEAP Performance Measure Policy

In this session, utilities, local LIHEAP agencies, and low-income advocates learned about LIHEAP Performance Measures and how they can be used to better understand clients and customers, improve program design, as well as educate others about LIHEAP. Attendees heard from stakeholders in one state about how they are sharing LIHEAP performance data and using it to encourage greater collaboration within their statewide network.

National Advocacy for LIHEAP

This session focused on the research on exemplary ratepayer funded low-income energy efficiency programs achieving high energy savings. The presentation tells the story of the leading programs through analysis of performance data and case studies highlighting the major design features and delivery mechanisms that make these programs so successful.

Integrations of WAP, LIHEAP & Utility Funding

This session examined some examples and guidance of how LIHEAP and utility funds can be integrated into providing weatherization services.

How Performance Management Can Improve LIHEAP

This session highlighted how LIHEAP Performance Measure data has impacted outreach, program delivery, benefit matrices and collaboration with partners. Panelists explained how Performance Measure Data was used to inform program changes, provide preliminary feedback on how the changes have improved their LIHEAP programs and discuss how on-going collection of Performance Measure Data will guide evaluation and further improvement in program design.

Other sessions included: Tribal and Utility Partnerships, Energy Assistance: A Piece of the Economic Justice Puzzle, Disaster Recovery, Deaf Community Outreach, Donor Development in the Digital Age, Utility Support of Energy Assistance Agencies and National Advocacy for LIHEAP.

A highlight of the conference was the announcement of the national award winners for 2018. Congratulations to all the award recipients!

Sister Pat Kelly Achievement Award – Jackie Berger, APPRISE

The Sister Pat Kelly Achievement Award recognizes a person with exemplary achievement in furthering the NEUAC objectives of increasing awareness of low-income energy problems, advancing energy assistance policy and promoting charitable energy assistance.

After the summer of 1980 when hundreds of vulnerable citizens died during a terrible mid-west heatwave, Sister Pat Kelley started an organization—Missouri Energycare—that would eventually become the National Fuel Funds Network, and later NEUAC. The mission was solely to advocate for energy assistance.

The Corporate Excellence Award – New Jersey Utilities

The Corporate Excellence Award recognizes outstanding achievements by a company or corporate entity on behalf of its low-income customers.

The Victorine Q. Adams Award – Dollar Energy Fund

The Victorine Q. Adams Award spotlights institutional innovation and achievement among non-profit NEUAC members. NEUAC presents the award to a non-profit organization that displays an innovative spirit towards raising public awareness and generating financial aid for people in need of energy assistance.

Victoria Q. Adams was a public leader and testament to good will who founded the nation’s first fuel fund program in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Lifetime Service Award – Edward Gingold, FERC

The Lifetime Service Award is awarded to an individual who had dedicated the majority of his or her life to service. This special award is given only when merited. The awardee must demonstrate exceptional dedication to the field of energy assistance during their lifetime and affecting positive change in the field of energy assistance.

The Performance Management Implementation Work Group (PMIWG) were also presented with an award, The Eternal Flame Award, by NEADA and OCS at the NEADA Annual Meeting for their tireless work on performance management.

Congratulations to all the award winners and thank you for your vital role(s) in helping low-income energy consumers become self-sufficient!

Other activities during the conference included a raffle—where winners won a variety of exciting prizes and all proceeds benefit scholarships for future NEUAC conferences—exhibitors and representatives from a variety of companies including: The Salt River Project, Arizona Community Action Association, Handcock Software, National Energy Foundation, Promotion Management Center, Tennessee Valley Authority, among others. A Mexican Fiesta Party, which included a live band, was also one of the many highlights of the conference.

The 2019 annual NEAUC conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas.