View the Industry Steering Committee
David Farnsworth – Regulatory Assistance Project – Principal
Mackay Miller – National Grid – Director, US Strategy
Sharon L. Tomkins – Sempra Energy – VP, Sustainability
Jack Ilhe – Xcel Energy – Director of Environmental Policy and Emerging Technology
Mike Judge – MA-DPU – Director, Electric Power Division
Jason Stanek – MD PSC – Chairman
Maria Bocanegra – Illinois Commerce Commission – Commissioner
Richard Oberg – SMUD – Manager of Product Delivery
Michael Luhrs – Duke Energy – Vice President, Retail Programs
Greg Kresge – HECO – Manager of Electrification of Transportation
Allen Dennis – EPRI – Electrification Program Manager
Keith Dennis – NRECA – Vice President
Diane Huis – North Carolina Electric Cooperative – SVP, Innovation and Business Development
David Logsdon – Seattle City Light – Director of Environmental Policy and Emerging Technology
David Treichler – Oncor – Director, Strategy and Technology
Garrett Fitzgerald – SEPA – Principal of Electrification

Key Takeaways
These are fundamental changes and an opportunity for electric utilities.

Historically, utilities were charged with supplying safe, reliable, and affordable energy to everyone in their service territory. They were essentially tasked with selling commodities-at the lowest cost. Today, electricity is so essential to modern life that access to it is arguably a basic human right. To that end, utilities are taking a more holistic view of their low-income customers, understanding that high energy burdens are one of many challenges they face and that some customers need more than rebates to transition to clean energy sources.
Equity is a journey.

Addressing historic inequalities in our energy systems takes thoughtful, intentional actions. Achieving energy equity requires first understanding who has benefited and who is burdened by current and past policies and programs. It also requires developing community-informed strategies and programs that meet the needs of specific populations and are accessible to the most vulnerable people. Equity does not happen all at once; it is a continuous process of doing, learning, and course-correcting to achieve a more equitable future. It is important to remember – 100% clean energy requires everyone to transition to clean fuel sources.
Utilities must know their customers…and their customers’ businesses.

Utilities will need deeper knowledge of their customers including an understanding of their challenges and how they make decisions. For agricultural, commercial, and industrial customers, utilities need a better understanding of their business cycles, the equipment they use, and when specific customers and industries are likely to make major investments in electrification technology so that they can adequately prepare for increased loads.
Enrollment is a key barrier for low-income customers.

Utilities and communities offer a variety of programs to ease high energy burdens, but the enrollment process is sometimes too difficult for the customers who need the most help. In addition, many programs have similar criteria for qualifying so if a customer is enrolled in one program, they likely qualify for others. Rather than requiring a separate application, utilities are creating a “universal” application and applying all qualifying programs to the customer’s electric bill. Automatic enrollment in programs to support low-income customers is a best practice.
Community engagement and partnerships are key.

Community partnerships are a key strategy for building trust and serving low- and moderate- income (LMI) customers. Building trust with customers and community-based organizations (CBOs) is a continuous, long-term effort that needs to become part of the utility’s internal and external culture. Utilities are shifting their outreach efforts from informing customers and communities to engaging customers, which starts with listening to communities and responding to their needs. Compensating community leaders for providing their time and expertise to utility planning and program development is a best practice.
Economic considerations are variable to infrastructure.

Electrification requires infrastructure investments in forecasting tools, management systems, and operations software to increase visibility into grid operations to optimize existing assets and to better manage new loads, especially matching variable load to variable generation. There are “soft” costs, too. For example, utilities will need more customer service agents with training in working with vulnerable customers, people to design and manage equitable programs to incentivize customers to choose electric technologies, and funding to support energy efficiency and weatherization programs for low- and moderate-income customers. Transparency around the impact on rates helps build trust between the utility and their customers.

A Stakeholders Guide to Electrification and Equity

SEPA has joined with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity to develop A Stakeholders Guide to Electrification and Equity. Built on the successful Voices of Experience approach of engaging industry stakeholders in peer-to-peer discussions, the resulting guide will be a resource of industry knowledge on the technology, policies, and investments needed to enable wide-spread electrification. Expect engaging video, podcasts, fact sheets, an interactive online library and more. Users will be able to “drill down” from the big picture to in-depth technical, economic, and policy information.

Why Electrification and Equity?

A Stakeholders Guide to Electrification & Equity is a multimedia webpage guide to help industry stakeholders better understand the emerging focus of electrification and equity within the electric power industry. This guide showcases the impact the clean energy transition will have on electric distribution systems as well as the technology, policies, and investments that will be needed to enable wide-spread electrification and ensure that everyone benefits from the transition.

The webpage consists of podcasts, facilitated discussions, interviews, webinars, fact sheets,  slide decks, and an animated video that summarizes key takeaways and insights from diverse utilities and other industry stakeholders who participated in the interviews and discussions. It also includes research on utility equity activities and a resource library with case studies, research reports, and articles from a range of industry sources including academia and the national labs.

Get Involved. There are many resources for everyone curated nationwide from industry peers. 

Browse the GridTalk Podcast Library
Dramatic Federal EV Charging Expansion | Listen now
Austin Seeks Equity for Electric Customers | Listen now
LA’s Bold, Equitable Energy Vision | Listen now
ComEd Pursues Equity as it Decarbonizes | Listen now
Colorado Aims for a Million EVs | Listen now
Electrification 2030 for the Empire State – Going Big on Offshore Wind | Listen now
The ABCs of Electrification – Exelon Evolves in Atlantic City, Baltimore, Chicago, and Beyond | Listen now
Explore these Industry Discussions from the VoE Summer Series

During summer series in 2021 and 2022, we convened industry stakeholders for peer-to-peer conversations to share their thoughts and experience around specific aspects and challenges to electrification and equity. The discussions were held virtually with the recordings provided below for each. The goal of the discussions were twofold: 1) to provide a forum for the industry to share insights and exchange ideas, and 2) gather information that will be used identify challenges and successes and gaps in industry knowledge that can be addresses through education, new research, and collaboration.

Enabling Technology for Electrification | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Greggory Kresge, Hawaiian Electric

Customer Engagement for Electrification | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: David Logsdon, Seattle City Light

Benefits Beyond Decarbonization | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Richard Oberg, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Energy Equity and Electrification | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Karen Olesky, Nevada Public Utilities Commission

Electrification and Resiliency | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Sharon Tomkins, Sempra Energy

Grid Infrastructure Investment Requirements for Electrification | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Keith Dennis, NRECA

Impacts of Electrification on the Natural Gas Industry | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Jared Leader, SEPA

Building Trust with Customers and Engaging CBOs | Listen now  
Discussion Leader: Angela Long, Portland General Electric

Addressing Energy Equity at the IOU | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Kristin Munsch, ComEd

Closing the Disparity Gap | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Keree Brannen and Amy Atchley, Austin Energy

Designing and Funding LMI Programs | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Jeff Feinberg, Snohomish County PUD

Rural Cooperatives, Broadband, and Equity | Listen now 
Discussion Leaders Paul Breakman, NRECA and Marshall Cherry, Roanoke Electric Cooperative

Reflecting on Incorporating Energy Equity Across Your Utility Organization | Listen now 
Discussion Leader: Sheri Givens, SEPA (Formerly National Grid)

Watch these SEPA Presentations and Interviews

SEPA TV  “Mapping Sustainable Communities for Equitable Electrification” (January 2022) | Watch now
SEPA TV “Paul Lau: Electrification Helps SMUD Better Serve the Community” (May 2021) | Watch now
SEPA TV “Jon Walker: Utilities Are Key To Electrify Ride Hailing” (April 2021) | Watch now
SEPA TV “Calvin Butler: Equitable Electrification Strengthens ALL Communities” (April 2021) | Watch now
SEPA Connect Video “Part 1: Developing Utility Mapping Tools to Support Sustainability and Equity with SMUD” (March 2022) | Watch now
SEPA Connect Video “Part 2: SMUD Utilizes Mapping Tool to Support Community Engagement and Partnerships” (March 2022) | Watch now

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