Guest Blog: Partnerships that Make a Difference

There’s a reason why Puget Sound Energy has been around for more than a century. With the recognition of being Washington’s oldest energy utility provider comes a responsibility to our customers and employees. It’s not just our commitment to safe, dependable and efficient energy, but our dedication to finding solutions and building partnerships throughout the greater Puget Sound region. We strive for continual improvements in safety, customer connection, technology, and communication. And it’s only getting better.

PSE_Stacked_RGB (002)PSE recognizes having reliable access to power supports our customers’ most basic human needs.  Unfortunately, for some customers, a decision to pay their utility bill comes at the cost of spending money on other basic needs—the need to buy groceries, the need to buy prescription drugs, the need for transportation.  Many of these difficult choices rest on the shoulders of our most vulnerable customers, including the elderly, the disabled, and families.  Further, limited resources can result in deferred home maintenance, resulting in structural degradation, leading to even higher energy bills.  For many this can feel like a downward spiral.

Weatherization can play a key role in easing these difficult choices by reducing monthly bills while making homes safer and more comfortable.  It is why PSE is committed to helping customers in need.

According to a recent Washington legislative report, Washington customers whose homes are comprehensively weatherized save approximately 20% in monthly bills, freeing up significant resources for other expenses.  We have seen decreases upwards of 60%.  Further, comprehensive weatherization can include health and safety measures, such as carbon monoxide detectors, and repairs—roof, electrical, and plumbing—enhancing the safety, livability, and durability of living spaces.  And at PSE, safety is a top priority for its employees and its customers.

But to accomplish this, we cannot do it alone.

This is why PSE greatly values our partnership with the national Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) network.Insulation pic

At the federal level, the Department of Energy sets the standard for the entire home performance industry.  It provides nation-wide scaffolding that consists of technical expertise, standard work quality specifications, industry-wide guidelines, quality control certifications, and accreditation at job training centers across the country. Utilities augment this framework by bringing non-federal dollars to the network. Many utilities coordinate with their state and local Community Action Program (CAP) agencies to deliver cost effective emerging technologies, comprehensive weatherization, and access to a skilled and trained workforce.  This in turn supports American businesses by creating demand for construction materials, labor, and diagnostic equipment.

Most importantly, at the end of the WAP experience, our most vulnerable customers have gained access to technologies that will significantly improve their lives. They are able to do so without absorbing the costs and stress related to managing a home project.  What’s better, the compassion and support extended by our CAP agency partners to our customers have an impact beyond the physical structure to the overall well-being of our customers themselves.   The proof is in the pudding:  when PSE evaluated its program in 2012, we found the program had over a 95% satisfaction rating.

The seed starts at the Federal level, reaches our states, and grows at the community grassroots level where PSE as a utility participates with its CAP agency partners. In the case of weatherization, the old saying rings true: the sum is greater than the individual parts.

PSE cares for its customers through our participation in the WAP network.  Ultimately, our partnership  creates the opportunity for PSE customers to better pay their bills and live in a healthier, safer environment. And when our customers win, so do we.

Guest blog contributed by Sandy Sieg, Program Manager-Customer Solutions, Energy Efficiency Services, Puget Sound Energy