17th Rocky Mountain Utility Exchange 2023

Posted September 18, 2023

States, agencies, and utilities are advancing equity in their policies, programs, and services. By doing so, they are empowered to intertwine energy and equity goals. By blending lived human experience and quantitative analysis, ILLUME crafted a roadmap for clients to achieve an equitable clean energy future with the communities they serve.

Define Priority Populations

Define who you aim to serve.
The first critical step is answering a seemingly straightforward question: who are we trying to impact? This answer provides the priority population definition, or who has and may continue to face inequities related to energy services. This process is organization-specific, as no two service territories are the same, yet it will share common key ingredients.

Collect data.
Next, you’ll want to collect, synthesize, and analyze all available data that could help define your priority populations. This could include census data, historic redlining data, and public health data.

Convene communities.
Data serves as the foundation, and community input ground-truths that foundation. After collecting data, collaborate with community stakeholders, including community-based organizations and environmental justice advocates, to refine the data-driven definition and co-create a representation of priority populations aligned with the community’s lived experiences.

Look at New York State’s Disadvantaged Communities Criteria, co-led by ILLUME with state agencies and stakeholders.

Clarify ‘Equity’ and Articulate Goals

Get clear and specific.
The next step is to define what “equity” means. Specifically, you must 1) understand the barriers customers face and their context (i.e., what problems have contributed to the ‘current state?’), then 2) define opportunities to address those barriers to advance equity.

Seek input.
Convene community stakeholders through focus groups, in-depth interviews, and/or public input sessions to understand the perspectives of communities. During these input sessions, work to answer: “What does equitable service look like?” and “What barriers have prevented us from getting there?”

Identify barriers.
Informed by community input sessions, identify historical environmental and energy justice barriers, and pinpoint those within your ‘sphere of influence’ to address barriers and advance equity.

Seek alignment.
Where possible, align your goals with existing equity mandates at the state or federal level to create consistency across similar efforts and processes.

Look at how ILLUME supported ComEd to identify barriers to equitable service, and opportunities to address those barriers.

Drive Equity and Measure Progress Goals

Create tactics to advance equity.
Once priority populations are defined and a shared vision of equity is established, create measurable, incremental tactics for equity advancement.

Define metrics to measure success.
For each tactic, define success metrics (i.e., what is the measurable ‘success’ metric?), measurement methods (i.e., how do we quantify success?), and the strategy to achieve them to assess and reassess equity progress tangibly (i.e., what approach will we take to achieve it?). These metrics will provide a blueprint to assess—and re-assess—progress toward advancing equity.

ILLUME is supporting the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board to develop an equity metrics framework to measure equitable outcomes in conservation and load management programs.

ILLUME’s holistic approach offers a tactical plan for advancing equity in diverse communities by integrating multiple data sources, authentic engagement, and energy expertise to create a clear roadmap for an equitable energy future. Ready to advance energy equity in your communities? ILLUME is here to help guide the way.