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2010 Conference Recap

About 600 people gathered in San Antonio, Texas, on June 14-17, 2010, when the National Fuel Funds Network and National Low Income Energy Consortium presented the National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference.  The event known by its acronym NEUAC is the largest single U.S. gathering to address the need for affordable No Deposit Bonus With No Max Cashout energy and other utilities for people with low income.

The keynote speaker at the opening general session of NEUAC 2010 was former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, who served in President Bill Clinton’s cabinet. Cisneros is currently executive chairman of the CityView companies, which work with No Deposit Bonus With No Max Cashoutbuilders to create No Deposit Bonus With No Max Cashouts priced within the range of average families. CityView is a partner in building 40 communities in 12 states, including more than 7,000 No Deposit Bonus With No Max Cashouts.

Monday's luncheon speaker was Doug McKenzie-Mohr, an environmental psychologist and expert in the design of programs to promote sustainable behavior. For over two decades, McKenzie-Mohr has been working to incorporate scientific knowledge on behavior change into the design and delivery of community programs. In his presentation, McKenzie-Mohr addressd the ongoing problem of maintaining long term changes in behavior as it applies to the energy assistance community. Many energy assistance programs have wrestled with the problem of finding ways to keep their clients following the energy efficient and energy saving practices that they demonstrate to them. If the clients can be convinced to maintain these behavioral changes, it will help them reduce their need for energy assistance.

The luncheon speaker on Tuesday was Karl Rábago, vice president for distributed energy services with Austin Energy. Rábago has nearly 20 years of experience in electricity policy and regulation, emerging energy markets and clean energy technology development, and implementation of sustainability principles. He has been both a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy and commissioner of the Texas Public Utility Commission, and he helped create the “Green-e” Certification program for renewable energy products.

Also on Tuesday, three plenary session panelists addressed Smart Grid technology and its impacts on low-income consumers. The general session panelists included consultant Barbara Alexander; Ray Gogel, the president and chief operating officer of the Current Group, LLC, in Germantown, Maryland; and Douglas Micheel, a senior advisor to the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability at the U.S. Department of Energy. 

In a general session on Wednesday, two Department of Energy officials led a discussion of an overview of the impact and accomplishments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and provided a look at what lies ahead. Gil Sperling, Senior Advisor for Policy and Programs in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U. S. Department of Energy, and Peter Roehrig, a special assistant at the U.S. Department of Energy, talked about the status of the legislation designed by the Obama administration to help with the recovery from the nation’s financial crisis.

The conference also had 56 workshops in seven tracks dealing with subjects including energy availability and sustainability, weatherization and energy efficiency, energy assistance and education, energy policy and advocacy, vulnerable populations, energy programs in Indian country, and utility and fuel program. It also included Hot Topics sessions and a poverty simulation workshop, where conferees will have the opportunity to experience firsthand the problems and difficulties faced by low- income households through role playing.

David Hansell, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' principal deputy assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, discussed LIHEAP program integrity at the final luncheon of the conference. Later, both the NFFN and the NLIEC presented their highest honors:

The National Low Income Energy Consortium annually recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated consistent leadership in championing low-income energy issues. The 2010 NLIEC Achievement Award honored Kay Joslin and Sherry Vogel of the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s LIHEAP Clearinghouse for their longstanding support to the energy-assistance community. For many years, the LIHEAP Clearinghouse has collected and provided timely and accurate information of great value to policymakers, program operators and people seeking energy assistance. In doing so, it has represented the highest example of professionalism in public service.

The National Fuel Funds Network presents the Sister Pat Kelley Achievement Award, its highest honor, to recognize exemplary personal achievement in furthering NFFN’s objectives of increasing public awareness of low-income energy problems, advancing energy assistance policy and promoting charitable energy assistance. The NFFN Kelley Award for 2010 honored David N. Parker, who has announced his retirement as president and chief executive officer of the American Gas Association. Parker is a committed champion of the Low Income No Deposit Bonus With No Max Cashout Energy Assistance Program. During his tenure at AGA, he markedly increased the association’s resources and leadership in advocating for increased federal energy aid. In this work, he has stressed partnership with and support of the nonprofit community, increased media attention to energy assistance and delivered solid analyses of the issues. The leadership of David Parker at the American Gas Association is a major factor in achieving the present historically high level of LIHEAP funding and the difference that it makes for families with low income.

The NFFN honored the West Virginia Utility Assistance Program, an initiative of the Dollar Energy Fund, with the Victorine Q. Adams Award. The award spotlights institutional innovation and achievement among nonprofit NFFN members. Since its inception in October 2008, the West Virginia Utility Assistance Program has distributed approximately $1.8 million in grants to over 6,000 low-income families. All major utilities in the state are partners in the program which provides aid to households in all 55 West Virginia counties.

The 2010 NFFN Extra Mile Award recipient is Congressman Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. The Network presents the award annually to a Member of Congress who has demonstrated legislative achievement for the Low Income No Deposit Bonus With No Max Cashout Energy Assistance Program. Congressman Markey, who has been a tireless supporter of LIHEAP, this year introduced the Energy Assistance for American Families Act that would authorize $7.6 billion for the program in future fiscal years.

The 2010 NFFN Corporate Excellence Award was presented to Entergy for its outstanding achievement on behalf of low-income consumers. The award recognizes Entergy’s extensive and wide ranging Low-Income Customer Assistance Initiatives, which the utility has introduced to help its customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Operating in a service area of high, persistent poverty, Entergy has engaged partners in a holistic approach to increase family income, assets and educational achievement to supplement direct financial assistance for utility bill payment.

© 2010, National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference, presented by the National Fuel Funds Network and National Low Income Energy Consortium