Notes form Subcommittee Meeting — original pdf
Discount Steering Committee Meeting Minutes February 24, 2014 In attendance: Michelle Akers (HACA) Kathleen Hopkins (Any Baby Can) Pat Macy (St. Austin Catholic Church) Tondalier Owens (Travis County HHS & VS) Linda Perez (Meals on Wheels & More) Angel Ramirez (Texas VFW Foundation) Ronnie Mendoza (AE) Sandra Castillo (AE) Melissa Davis (AE) Jessica Twining (AE) Irene Nemitsas (AE) Review of meeting minutes – February 15th, 2014 Approved as is. Discount Program Qualifier Numbers/Percentages • Mass Mailing o Austin Energy recently conducted mass letter mailing to 120,000 MAP recipients in targeted zipcodes, promoting open spots in Discount Program for MAP beneficiaries o Mailed about 2 weeks ago o Solix has noticed increase in volume of calls for applications – hopefully will help fill some of those open MAP spots o Linda from MoW requested a copy of the letter to be distributed to DSC so they can give to their clients • Community Benefit Charge Fund Forecasting o Current 33,000 spots will still not utilize funding overage from FY2013 o As such, spots have increased to 45,000 o Initiated Friday, 2/21 o Pending 11,000 enrollment into program o Even though understood that this number will have to be reduced back to 25,000 (though there will be some carryover into FY15) o Will just not re-enroll customers when their enrollment expires o But hoping City Council will see the need for the program and provide additional funding to keep at/close to 45,000 • Re-Evaluation of Current Formula o Currently 4,000-5,000 MAP openings – how do we equitably use these? o Is it ok to absorb into other programs? Committee agreed yes. o Using formula already created, if a program is not utilizing all allocated spots, after a period of 4 months (after beginning of fiscal year), use formula to disperse between top-three demanded programs. Then with new fiscal year, go back to original allocation o Right now top three programs are Medicaid, CHIP and SNAP Weatherization • Reporting o Ronnie reviewed current numbers of CAP weatherization program o Goal is to weatherize 200 homes during FY14 (this includes carryover funds from FY2013 plus FY14 funding) o Numbers include: Eligible customers (includes two priority 1 lists and one priority 2 list pulled since October 2013) = 967 Completed home visits = 123 Customers completing education class = 73 Customers pending education class = 20 Completed audits = 60 Pending audits = 7 Completed weatherization jobs = 3 Jobs with contractor = 8 Jobs awaiting contractor assignment = 34 Jobs pending final inspection = 4 o Why is the completed weatherization jobs number so low? Currently all contracts being bid out to contractors is going through Contract Management, who receives the work orders from AE then disperses jobs Current process is taking longer than hoped at 30-60 days Ronnie is planning on intervening because it is very important to reach target of 200 homes in order to utilize all funding Weatherization report going to City Council on Monday, March 3 • Square Footage Formula o AE still currently working on creating a working formula for energy burden – working with business intelligence group • Tampering o For CAP eligible weatherization customers who have tampering on their account, should they still be eligible for weatherization? o Ronnie gave background concerning recent changes in hearing regulations- previously tampering was a non-hearable issue, but City Council received numerous complaints o Effective 7/2013, tampering is now a hearable issue o Based on that, DSC decided to treat those accounts like any other: CAP weatherization customers need to go through the same process. If they are held unaccountable then we can proceed with weatherization. If they are held accountable and pay full restitution (any usage during tampering period + any fees associated with meter replacement), then they are eligible for weatherization. • Referrals Out-of-scope, Structure, Cleanliness o For homes deemed out of scope due to structural issues with renters (not homeowners), having trouble finding an agency to assist – DSC was in agreement, and suggested landlord as possible avenue o Concerning cleanliness If AE visits a home they deem is a safety hazard, need to contact CPS and/or APS If resident is already receiving services from an agency, have them contact their case manager to see if they can assist in cleaning the home If resident is not receiving services, give them 30 days to clean the home, then make a second home visit If they have not cleaned sufficiently, they will be deemed out of scope until their account possibly re-appears on a future list. Then can be re-visited. • Letter/Call Process o AE proposed switching the current contact process back to 2 initial calls, followed by a mailed letter o This time mailed letter to include a deadline date to contact AE for more weatherization info o DSC approved change. Arrearage Program Overview • Most DSC meeting attendees were present for 2/19 Consumer Advocates Meeting expressed concern that meeting got off track – focused more on program development rather than policymaking • As such, the facilitator, Robena Jackson, requested DSC handle creation of arrearage program, then bring recommendation to CAG to discuss/react • DSC agreed to create program outline. • AE pulled arrearage program research for DSC to use as tools for program creation, including: o National Consumer Law Center report, plus abridged synopsis on “Helping Low-Income Utility Customers Manage Overdue Bills through Arrearage Management Programs” o Arrearage Program Design Matrix o Examples of other nationwide arrearage programs o 2014 Federal Poverty Income Limits o Fixed Income Pilot Project (AE pilot project) o Requested DSC to review the documents before the next meeting/working session • How much will an arrearage program cost AE? o Preliminary unaudited numbers show that CAP discount customers owe $2.8 million dollars o Numbers are still being pulled for all other residential customers, but Ronnie mentioned debt amount for this group is much higher • Ronnie stated AE tried to pull comparisons from other municipally-owned utilities on their arrearage programs but could not find anything comparable • Recommended issues to be tackled: o Need to be two programs – one for CAP customers and one for general “residential” Residential customers will be referred/case managed by outside agencies CAP discount customers will be managed by AE o Definition of exactly what “arrearage” debt amount is Possibly debt over $5,700? This is the amount an individual can get through other community services ($1,500 Plus 1, $1,200 CEAP, $3,000 BSS+) o Also need to be careful not to “incentivize” customers to not pay their bills, in hopes of enrolling in program and receiving AE pledges to pay off their debt • Recommended possible debt payment scenarios might include: o Graduate into percentage-based program – After six months of paying current bill, a certain percent of arrears is paid off by AE as a pledge, after another six months, another percentage paid off, etc. o Start immediately with percentage-based program – If customer continues to pay current monthly bill, from month one provide “pledges” to customer account Next Steps Next meeting/working session set for Wednesday, March 5 from 10a-11:30a.