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Lift Solar Customer Experience Benchmarking Report

In initiating research regarding historic energy efficiency programs, the LIFT research team hoped to reveal patterns in the customer experience practices of energy utilities and municipalities that could be used as a baseline for improved, sustainable program elements in community solar and solar programs offered in the United States. The organizations collaborating in LIFT and our supporting Federal agency, the US Department of Energy, share the mission of accelerating access to clean energy generation for our low- and moderate-income neighbors; we all share the goal of optimizing benefits to our most vulnerable families, while making community solar and solar programs financially sustainable to the utility, municipality or program sponsor. LIFT sought to collect data first from utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs (broadly including demand side management, weatherization, and other energy saving programs) that might identify low- and moderate-income (LMI) ratepayers within their programs, and provide data on customer experience/behavior measures that could inform similar program elements for solar programs serving LMI families.

What we discovered was that, first, even successful energy efficiency programs often did not conduct significant customer engagement activity. Secondly, when program managers did inquire as to why customers signed up to participate (motivation), the programs did not identify customers by income level. And asking customers whether they were “satisfied” by the programs in which they participated (satisfaction) was rare, and inconsistent across programs even within the same utility.

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