It’s often the case that the low-to-middle income (LMI) customer segment is the most challenging audience for utilities to reach. For many LMI customers, paying utility bills can mean making a tough choice between housing, medical expenses and putting food on the table. In fact, a recent study conducted by the USDA suggests that 69 percent of food-insecure households have had to choose between purchasing food and utilities. And yet, LMI customers typically have the greatest opportunities for energy savings, and could usually stand to benefit most from energy-efficient products.
Our Community-Based Distribution Program was designed to address exactly this problem. Because energy efficiency can benefit everyone, it shouldn’t be limited only to those customers who can afford the initial investments. We’re all in this together, after all.
“We know that families in need are often forced to make difficult decisions, and sometimes food dollars get cut in order to cover other life expenses,” says Dawn Casey, Energy Efficiency and Consumer Programs Coordinator at the Public Service Company of Oklahoma. “But through the Community-Based Distribution Program, we can provide our neighbors with a ray of hope.”
We partner with utilities and local food banks to distribute ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulbs and other energy-efficient products to LMI customers who lack the means or awareness to participate in other residential incentive programs.
Our products come directly from manufacturers, who ship them to community centers. The Energy-efficient goods are then put directly into the packages customers receive at their area food banks—resources which are fully ingrained in their communities but that often go underutilized for outreach purposes. Engaging food banks creates an opportunity to make a positive touchpoint with a historically underserved audience.
In using food banks to supply LMI customers with EE products, our utility partners in this program are focusing local news and social media attention on community issues and energy efficiency awareness, making a positive impact and helping the customers who need it most.
You can find out more about our Community-Based Distribution Program here.