Back in 2018, Energy Trust developed 10 diversity, equity and inclusion goals to improve and enhance offers for customers it has been less successful in serving in the past: people of color, people with low incomes and people in rural areas.
This was the first time the organization set these kinds of goals for itself. They covered everything from customer participation to contracting and hiring to diversity among trade allies. The organization gave itself until 2020 to achieve these goals and published twice-yearly progress reports.
The final progress report came out in April as part of Energy Trust’s 2020 Annual Report to the Oregon Public Utility Commission & Energy Trust Board of Directors. It shows Energy Trust achieved about half of these goals, including increasing participation among residential customers of color and increasing the number of projects completed by minority- and women-owned trade allies.
In a presentation to the OPUC last year, Executive Director Michael Colgrove explained Energy Trust set these goals not knowing if it would achieve them but knowing the organization needed to be aggressive.
“This has been a real learning experience for the organization, understanding our abilities in term of tracking relevant data and understanding barriers for different customer groups,” he said. “…Failure to meet goals is acceptable as long as staff is willing to continue to learn; trying new things that don’t work is OK as long as you don’t give up on the goal.”
Since 2018, the organization has:
- Formed a Diversity Advisory Council with members who represent communities of color and rural Oregonians.
- Hired a diversity, equity and inclusion lead, a full-time senior management position, to help incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into all aspects of its work.
- Prioritized development and delivery of low- and no-cost offers for people disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including communities of color, customers with low incomes and those who lost jobs as a result of the pandemic.
- Began offering Community Partner Funding, whereby residential customers can access higher cash incentives for energy-saving upgrades delivered through partnership with community organizations.
- Launched new solar incentives and grant offers to help connect income-qualified customers with solar energy, whether through rooftop solar at single-family or multifamily homes or community solar projects developed by public agencies and nonprofits.
Energy Trust has set new diversity, equity and inclusion goals for 2021 with new targets to increase customer participation, deepen relationships with community partners, work with trade allies and more.
This year, staff will engage stakeholders to inform its next set of diversity, equity and inclusion goals and objectives, seeking input from community-based organizations, customer advocates, community leaders, business and trade groups to guide development of goals and strategies that meet the needs of underserved customers.