Texas program succeeds, but faces sunset.
Wannie Park is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at CEIVA Energy, a provider of in-home displays for the LITE-UP Texas program.
Record-breaking temperatures in Texas in recent years have caused electricity bills to soar. That impacts everyone's pocketbook, but no one more so than low-income Texans. In August 2013, for example, the average household in Austin consumed 2,157 kilowatt hours of electricity, costing $235. Roughly 8 percent of households were delinquent with their electricity payments and the majority of these households were low-income residents. When costs are skyrocketing and customers can't afford electricity, all parties lose.
To address this problem, two years ago, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) initiated the LITE-UP Texas program (https://www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/lowincome/assistance.aspx), which promotes energy efficiency by paying an incentive to competitive retail electric providers (REPs) to equip low-income electric ratepayers with in-home displays that reveal details on home energy use and make it easier for consumers to save on their electric bills.
LITE-UP Texas was developed out of a fund that was created in 1999 (known as the System Benefit Fund) as part of deregulation. Texas citizens and businesses pay a small fee on their monthly electricity bill to finance the fund. But more importantly, under the LITE-UP program, retailers earn a direct payment of $60 for each in-home display they provide to low-income Texans.