Equity now formally part of oversight for Energy Trust

Equity now formally part of oversight for Energy Trust

Table at an event

Each year the Oregon Public Utility Commission sets performance measures for Energy Trust that cover all aspects of the organization, from energy savings and generation to spending and customer satisfaction.

For the first time, the OPUC set performance measures on Energy Trust’s service to environmental justice communities, including customers with low and moderate incomes, as required by state legislation passed in 2021. This makes making equity a formal part of Energy Trust’s accountability and oversight.

The OPUC adopted the 2023 performance measures at its meeting March 7. The four equity requirements build on Energy Trust’s existing equity-focused activities. Each one has a theme and target for Energy Trust to meet:

  • Access to support for communities: Increase support to nonprofit organizations that serve environmental justice communities or support for nonprofit-led initiatives serving environmental justice communities to $1.8 million, a 15% increase from 2022 spending.
  • Access to information: Increase funding to support targeted outreach to environmental justice communities, including funding for community ambassadors, education and workshops, with 10 additional FTEs or community ambassadors, a 35% increase over FTEs and community ambassadors in 2022.
  • Energy burden reduction: Create and launch two new low-cost and no-cost offers to reduce energy burden for low- and moderate-income customers, a 25% increase over the number of offers available in 2022.
  • Community resilience: Engage at least five community-based organizations in developing a solar + storage offer to support solar and solar + storage system for low- and moderate-income residents in areas with limited infrastructure or high energy burden.

Throughout 2022, the OPUC held outreach events in environmental justice communities to get input on community and energy needs, both in person and online; many of these efforts focused on rural Oregon.

In response to stakeholder feedback, Energy Trust will report on its progress toward the equity metrics quarterly, rather than annually. While Energy Trust reports on outcomes to its performance measures each year in its annual report, stakeholders said they wanted more information on equity-focused activities and progress, which will help the OPUC when it comes to drafting the 2024 requirements.

These performance measures are separate from the goals and metrics included in Energy Trust’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan. While OPUC performance measures set minimum expectations for Energy Trust, the DEI Plan set ambitious goals designed to challenge Energy Trust’s way of doing business so that it serves more customers.