More than 900 participants joined the 2016 Better Buildings Summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy in May 2016. The purpose of the summit was for stakeholders to exchange best practices and highlight demonstrated market solutions for achieving greater energy efficiency in America’s buildings. This year DOE invited a presentation from EEtility, the program operator for Ouachita Electric at the summit. EEtility described the experience of switching from a well-performing on-bill loan program to a tariffed on-bill investment program that performed even better.
EEtility had been instrumental in establishing an on-bill loan program called Home Energy Lending Program (HELP) for leading utilities in Arkansas in 2013. While the HELP program featured a number of best practice design attributes, it still was not able to reach renters or support investments that could achieve deep savings. At the Better Buildings Summit in 2015, EEtility first learned of the Pay As You Save® (PAYS®) approach to offering no-debt financing for all cost-effective efficiency upgrades. Six months later, the first utility had prepared its PAYS tariff, and in February 2016, the Arkansas Public Service Commission approved it unanimously.
This year, EEtility returned to the Better Buildings Summit to share early results from the switch from HELP to HELP PAYS®. They reported more than $1 million in energy efficiency investments with little marketing beyond a newsletter bulletin. More than two thirds of the HVAC upgrades in the program were for multi-family and single family renters, customers that had been virtually shut out of the utility’s best practice loan program.
The Better Buildings Summit is an annual meeting of leading organizations across key sectors that are helping participants of the Better Buildings Challenge to achieve their goal of cutting the energy intensity of their buildings portfolio-wide by 20% over the next ten years. The average estimated energy savings for customers participating in the HELP PAYS program exceeds the Better Buildings Challenge target. Before the next Better Buildings Summit, EEtility will work with every multi-family housing complex. Based on results to date, HELP PAYS would be able to finance upgrades that allow every portfolio manager in the Ouachita Electric service area to meet the Better Buildings Challenge.