Inclusive Financing for Energy Efficiency Sparks Surge in Investment

Eight months ago, the Arkansas Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve Ouachita Electric’s filing of an opt-in tariff for cost effective energy efficiency investments.

Once approved, Ouachita Electric Cooperative replaced its existing on-bill loan program, called HELP, which had been recognized as a best practice model at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Summit. Ouachita implemented its program using the Pay As You Save® (PAYS®) system, and named the program HELP PAYS®.

Previously, the utility had released data comparing the market response in the first quarter of the HELP PAYS® program compared to the best quarter of the HELP program at Ouachita Electric.

Now the utility has released preliminary analysis of program activity for the first four months of the program. The results show the market response is validating the benefits of the switch from a debt-based on-bill financing program to a tariffed on-bill investment program.

Compared to the same four months of the prior year with the HELP program in Ouachita Electric Cooperative’s service area, the utility is reporting that HELP PAYS® achieved:

  1. Increased participation with approximately triple the number of participants.
  1. Immediate net savings of at least 20%, compared to zero in the prior bill-neutral loan program.
  1. Renters accounted for approximately half of the participants, whereas they previously were not eligible for the on-bill loan program.
  1. Average investment in the tariffed on-bill program was more than double the project size under the loan program, reaching deeper savings.
  1.  Scale of total investment surged by more than a factor of 10 in the first four months.

Ouachita Electric is releasing the preliminary results of the HELP PAYS program due to inquiries of interest in the field, as they explained in a public statement. Monthly performance will be monitored to provide feedback for continuous improvement in program implementation. Ouachita Electric will undertake a full evaluation of the program after they have collected one year’s worth of data.

For a two-page summary of key findings from Ouachita Electric’s full report, click here.