Fellows in the News

Illinois’ largest electric utility is trying a new approach to its energy efficiency programs for low- and moderate-income customers: working with community action agencies.

ComEd, which serves Chicago and the rest of northern Illinois, has long worked with outside organizations to administer its efficiency programs. But when those programs expanded under the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016, ComEd partnered with a California startup that links community action agencies directly to the utility.

Partners say this arrangement not only helps direct funding toward important efficiency upgrades in communities that need them, but also amplifies those communities’ voices in the process. It’s unique, they say, because it’s the first time the utility and the community agencies are working together.

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According to ComEd’s first-quarter 2019 report filed with the Illinois Stakeholder Advisory Group, the utility saved 1,605 megawatt-hours of electricity through its income-eligible multi-family retrofits during the quarter — 27% of its predicted savings for this year. The weatherization program resulted in various retrofits at two Chicago-area apartment buildings, including new refrigerators and central air conditioning in units. Last year, ComEd achieved 97% of its energy savings forecast in the same category, according to its fourth-quarter 2018 report.

In addition to those metrics, Resource Innovations plans to roll out a customer survey for residents after their upgrades are complete to gather qualitative data, said Kristen Pratt Kalaman, a program manager who oversees the group’s work with the community action agencies.

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