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Nevada Assistance Program Evaluation Released

May 17 -- The 2009 evaluation of Nevada's state-funded energy assistance and weatherization program is available on the program's website. Titled "SFY 2009 Evaluation: Energy and Weatherization Assistance Programs," it is the program’s seventh mandatory annual evaluation.

The program coordinates funds from a universal energy charge (UEC) that is assessed on most gas and electric utility customers with LIHEAP and other funds to create a statewide affordability and energy efficiency program. Program participants pay no more than the state median household energy burden (2.55 percent for 2009) for their energy bills, with the remainder covered by UEC funds and LIHEAP. Participants receive an annual, one- time per year benefit paid directly to their energy provider(s) and credited to their bill. They also receive assistance in paying past due bills and energy efficiency measures.

The UEC generates about $12 million annually with 75 percent distributed to the Nevada State Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, the state LIHEAP grantee, and the remainder to the state weatherization grantee, the Nevada Housing Division.

During SFY 2009, the Division spent $10.9 million providing 20,799 households with an energy assistance benefit averaging $734.  The weatherization portion of the program spent about $3.7 million to assist 1,107 low-income households. 

Completed by H. Gil Peach & Associates and Smith & Lehman Consulting, the evaluation noted that the program is serving only 10 percent of eligible clients, which is considerably less than ratepayer-funded energy assistance programs in other states; for example, California serves 78 percent of eligibles and New Jersey 49 percent.   However, according to the evaluation, no other program is as equitable as Nevada’s in its annual energy burden determination. 

The evaluators had several suggestions to address the problem of low coverage, including that the regulatory commission investigate a new low-income rate design that would work in tandem with the current program by offering baseline charges and tiered discounts to those below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, and explore the feasibility of striving for 90 percent coverage of Nevadans in need.

For more information, including annual plans and evaluations, visit the website of the Nevada State Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

Source: Nevada DWSS