Targeted Universalism

Targeted UniversalismKey takeaways:

  • Targeted universalism means setting universal goals pursued by targeted processes. Strategies developed to achieve those goals are based upon how different groups are situated within structures, culture, and across geographies to obtain the universal goal. 
  • This strategy is useful for policy practitioners interested in solutions that serve all residents and address the unique situations faced by underserved communities.
  • Five steps are identified to implement these policies: establish a universal goal, assess performance relative to goal, identification of different performance between goal and overall population, assess and understand the structures, and develop and implement targeted strategies.  The individual steps are useful outside of this context in setting goals and analyzing a policy landscape.

Low-Income Energy Affordability

Low-Income Energy Affordability

Key takeaways: 

  • The authors review more than 180 publications to assess the 2019  energy burden landscape  and opportunities to relieve it.  It provides a high-level overview  of equity literature with broad conclusions. 
  • Energy burden is higher among low-income households compared to other groups. It is not declining and is compounded by other socio-economic factors like race and location. 
  • Many policies and programs that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy are inaccessible to low-income households.
  • Most low-income funding focuses on short-term  energy insecurity  and not long-term solutions  to reduce energy burden. Additionally, promising technologies are not well integrated  in low-income programs


Energy efficiency and energy justice for U.S. low-income households: An analysis of multifaceted challenges and potential -- Xiaojing Xu, Chien-fei Chen

Key takeaways: 

The authors identify several characteristics of households with low incomes that may affect effective participation in demand response programs. Those include an ongoing need for electricity due to long hours at home, limited options for participation due to access to required appliances (e.g., a clothes washer or dyer), limited control available to renters, and an inability to receive or respond to demand requests due to having no advanced smart grid technologies.

The authors conclude that these households with low incomes should have access to demand response programs that are tailored to fit their appliance profile and activity schedule. Incentive-based demand response programs need to be considered (in tandem with or instead of price-based demand response programs) so that households with low incomes are not ‘penalized’ for not being able to reduce or shift an inflexible load during peak hours with higher prices.

Equity in Practice

Equity in PracticeKey takeaways:

  • Prioritize equity throughout electrification roadmap development and execution. Collaborate with and empower community stakeholders in the decision-making process.  
  • Conduct a transportation needs assessments and ensure that public transportation and active transportation are considered as solutions.
  • Compensate participants for meetings, focus groups, and other engagements. 

Examples from the text:

  • San Francisco conducted a needs assessment, compared options with an equity analysis, and gave the community power to vote on which mobility options to implement.
  • BlueLA is a one-way car-sharing service with on-street stations to pick up and drop off vehicles. BlueLA offers significant discounts to users with low incomes.  

The State of Equity Measurement

The State of Equity MeasurementKey takeaways:

The authors identify six dimensions of equity and propose methods for evaluating said dimensions as they related to energy efficiency. 

Historical Legacies: There may be cases in which the energy institution itself played a role in creating disparity.

Awareness of Populations: A historical review of energy services will ideally identify populations that have been underserved or negatively served.

Inclusion of Other Voices: The demographic representativeness of professional program staff, program consultants and supply chain providers, and leadership is one method for assessing equity from the standpoint of public perceptions and potential bias.  

Access Discrimination: Programs could review the eligibility requirements and procedures by which they currently market, solicit, recruit, and process applicants to identify potential differences in program receipt.   

Output Differences: Equity analysis involves an assessment of participation rates across all interventions. 

Disparate Impacts: Measuring the final expected objectives across the service population as well as the eligible population against the overall eligible population are ways that disparate impacts can be studied and eventually reduced.