News from TEPRI – November 2021

Dear Friends of TEPRI,

The events of the past year have added an urgency to the movement for energy equity and have galvanized our desire to deliver lasting energy solutions to communities across Texas. The challenges facing families who just want to keep the lights on are not going away, and we are determined to meet the moment.

As a growing number of individuals, organizations, and government entities recognize the critical issue of energy poverty, we consider it our duty to act as a source of direction and provide resources to all who are interested in making the transition to a more equitable energy landscape. To that end, we are pursuing a number of exciting projects and programs, many of which are highlighted below.

Our work would not be possible without the support of our members, partners, donors, volunteers, and staff. We are endlessly grateful to all who make this organization possible.

As you read on, you’ll notice we have several opportunities for involvement. We hope you’ll consider coming alongside us in this important work.

Warmly,

Dana Harmon
Executive Director

 

What We’ve Been Up To

Available Now: Energy Opportunities Coalition (EOC) Final Report

We are pleased to release our 2021 EOC report, Advancing Clean Energy Solutions in Underserved Texas Communities. This report is the product of meetings with a wide range of stakeholders and outlines concrete steps to make clean energy a reality in traditionally underserved communities. Read the full report here.

Planning for the EOC’s 2022 cohort is already underway, and we are searching for individuals who’d like to participate in this next phase of the coalition. Read more about the Coalition here. Be the first to know when we release more information on the 2022 cohort by signing up here.

Launching 2022: Community Voices in Energy Efficiency (CVEE)

One key recommendation of the 2021 EOC report was to build a network designed to foster broader community participation and engagement in energy system planning decisions. You can learn more about this concept in the final report here.

TEPRI is proud to announce the Community Voices in Energy Efficiency initiative is launching in 2022. Our goal is to identify 10 community-based organizations from geographically dispersed regions of Texas to participate in this program. Benefits will include community analysis, training curriculum, technical support, and networking opportunities. Those interested in learning more about and joining this network of community organizations and leaders can sign up here.

Developing a Geo-Eligibility Platform for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

In partnership with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), we are developing a tool for determining geographic eligibility for participants in low-income energy efficiency programs. We’re currently working to pilot this concept as part of our mission of expanding access to home energy-efficiency improvements.

 

Seeking Host Site for Community Impact Solar Pilot

As part of our ongoing efforts to bring clean energy investments to underserved communities, we’ve designed a new model called Community Impact Solar (CIS). This model allows cost savings associated with a large commercial solar installation to be shared with low income community members in the form of an energy stipend. We’re currently seeking host sites to pilot this model.

 

Advancing Community-Driven Solar

We are designing a web-based platform that serves as an introduction for community leaders interested in developing low- to moderate-income (LMI) focused solar projects in the Texas competitive electricity market. We’re currently seeking beta testers for this early stage model. Interested in testing the platform? Contact TEPRI research analyst Andrew Robison (andrew@txenergypoverty.org) to learn more.

Welcome (A)Board

We are thrilled to announce the addition of two distinguished leaders to the TEPRI Board of Directors.

Hanna Adams  

Hanna Adams is the Executive Director of Cornerstone Community Action Agency and has been employed in Community Action since 1999. She is a Nationally Certified Results Oriented Management and Accountability Master (ROMA) trainer and Certified Community Action Professional.

Her expertise helped develop a successful case management program with over 250 people transferred out of poverty. Ms. Adams also spearheaded several new programs such as community gardens, Hunters for the Hungry, HOME Program, Retired Senior Volunteer Program and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. She serves on the board for Loaves and Fishes Ministries, Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas, and the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies.

As Executive Director, Hanna gives direction and leadership toward achievement of CCAA philosophy, implements the policies and programs adopted by the Board of Directors, manages the day-to-day affairs of the agency, and ensures compliance with all contracts, regulations and laws. Hanna’s experience managing utility assistance and weatherization programs in north Texas brings a unique perspective to the TEPRI Board.

Cheryl Mele  

Cheryl is the VP of Customer Care and Corporate Communications at El Paso Electric (EPE). Cheryl is excited to join the TEPRI board at a critical time in the energy sector as technological advances and cost reductions support a more sustainable energy future and lead to more empowered customers.

Vertically integrated, regulated utilities like EPE are charged with delivering reliable and affordable energy to support safety, economic development and quality of life for customers. In the unique borderplex region EPE serves, customers are excited to see growth in solar, storage and transportation electrification and easier access to affordable energy efficiency programs that will make a positive impact to our environment.

“TEPRI’s work is vital for informing industry leaders and regulators on how to shape programs, products and education to build equitable access to new, affordable energy opportunities.”
– Cheryl Mele, El Paso Electric

Featured Partner

Jen Cregar  

TEPRI’s work would not be possible without our fantastic partners and supporters. This month we wanted to shine the spotlight on one of our incredible partners, Jen Cregar.

Jen is the founder and principal of Terra Lumina Consulting in Austin, Texas. Terra Lumina works hand in hand with TEPRI to develop programs and advance efforts at the intersection of clean energy, STEM education and workforce development.

Most recently, Jen is helping to lead TEPRI’s 331 STEM: Energy initiative. This is a multi-stakeholder team working to develop a diverse, community-led, and national network, supported by the latest academic thought leadership to prepare young people with valuable STEM educational opportunities in energy by combining the resources of three universities and three diverse cities (Houston, Minneapolis, and Detroit) to serve one singular vision: building a STEM and energy educational ecosystem guided by shared learning experiences, exploration, and inclusion.

Featured Event

UT  Energy Symposium

On November 30th at 12:30 Central, Dana will take part in a panel on energy justice and international development. For more information, click here.

Where You’ve Seen Us

Behavior, Energy and Climate Conference (BECC)

On November 9th, TEPRI’s Andrew Robison was invited to present the key findings from our July report, When the Lone Star Froze Over: Winter Storm Uri and the lived experiences of Texas low-income communities at BECC. The presentation focused on the lived experiences of low-income Texans before, during, and after Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, examined the lasting effects of the storm on low-income populations, and discussed the policy and regulatory changes that have occurred since. Check out the presentation here.

NPR Marketplace

TEPRI contributed to NPR’s Marketplace in August to talk about energy burdens and the difficult choices families are forced to make in order to keep the power on. Listen here.

EUCI TX Energy Conference

The EUCI TX Energy Conference on September 15th focused on the ever-evolving energy landscape in Texas. TEPRI was featured in a panel discussion on energy consumer perspectives and initiatives. Learn more about the conference here.

WRISE Equitable Access Webinar

Dana joined Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy’s webinar series to discuss equitable access in clean energy. Learn more about WRISE here.

TEPRI In The News

Renewable energy startup aims to help Texans lower electric bills
by Katie Watkins, NPR Marketplace (8/24/21)

For Many Texans, The Winter Storm Is Far From Over
by Christopher Connelly, KERA (6/23/21)

Get Involved

The Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute is accelerating the move towards an energy system that is clean, distributed, affordable, and supports healthy, thriving communities.

We are a collaboration of energy and social equity stakeholders working to inspire lasting energy solutions for all people in Texas. We work with teams of experts from inside and outside the energy sector to conduct research, build evidence, create tools for practitioners, and partner with local jurisdictions to demonstrate and test new models, programs, and policies that can scale for widespread impact.

Our work improves the systems that are needed to enable energy solutions to reach underserved communities so that their benefits may flow to those most in need.

If you are interested in learning how to support our mission and work, check out TEPRI membership opportunities here.