Smart Energy Use

OPPD launches low-income efficiency pilot program

The Omaha Public Power District is launching a pilot program aimed at expanding the public power utility’s energy efficiency program among its low-income customers.

“We want to make our customers aware of energy efficiency to reduce their energy burden and cut their costs,” said Britton Gabel, OPPD product specialist.

The pilot project is a redesign of OPPD’s Smart Steps low-income energy efficiency program, according to Gabel. Through a revamped program, OPPD hopes to reach segments of the low-income population the utility hasn’t reached before.

Among the changes, the pilot effort is open to households with income of up to double the federal poverty level, an increase from 150 percent, Gabel said.

As part of the initiative, OPPD is establishing partnerships with non-profit agencies across its service territory, which covers 13 urban and rural counties in the greater Omaha area, according to Gabel.

OPPD is working with 11 agencies, but the number is expected to grow, according to Gabel. One of the agencies, for example, works with elderly and disabled people, he said.

One of the main challenges OPPD faces is reaching different segments within the low-income population such as people living in rural areas, Gabel said.

The initiative includes a streamlined application process under which eligibility is determined by the partner agencies.

Under the pilot, OPPD will provide eligible customers with an energy efficiency kit, a home energy audit and, depending on the audit results, up to $1,000 for energy efficiency upgrades.

Potential upgrades include LED lighting, attic insulation, window and door sealing, water heater insulation, duct wraps and joint foundation insulation, according to Gabel.

While working on customer efficiency audits and upgrades, if OPPD contractors see health, safety or other issues, they can bring in other agencies to help tackle the problems, according to Gabel.

The pilot program starts in June.