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AESP Energy Award Review Series: New Mexico Gas Company and the Native American Energy Efficiency Program

image credit: New Mexico Gas Company

Earlier this year, utility industry professionals gathered at the 30th Annual AESP Conference in Anaheim, California, to connect, share ideas, and learn from each other. Among the most exciting parts of that event was the recognition of the 2020 AESP Energy Awards. These winners are leading the way in the utility industry and achieving company and customer goals that deserve recognition, and the lessons learned can and should be shared widely. That’s why AESP also hosted a series of webinars for these award winners to discuss their projects and share their insights with the greater community.

To enhance that process and ensure it reaches members of the AESP / Energy Central  ‘Energy Efficiency Community’, I listened to those webinars and took notes so I can share some key insights that I took away with the community. Today I’ll share with you the lessons learned from New Mexico Gas Company and their Native American Energy Efficiency Program which was honored as ‘Outstanding Achievement in Gas Energy Efficiency Program Design and Implementation.’

Participating in the webinar was Dru Jones of New Mexico Gas Co. Dru shared with listeners all the great ways in which the utility sought to serve its Native American customers through its specially designed energy efficiency program after years of limited access and low participation rates. To tailor these programs specifically to tribal communities, New Mexico Gas Co. officials met directly with tribal organizations, designed a multiyear pilot project to test the viability of the program, funded over $160,000 for the initial projects, and coordinated stakeholders to guide the initial projects to success.

Getting from point A to point B wasn’t always easy, though. New Mexico Gas Co. had to establish partnerships with the Pueblos and their residents. With goals to make the program streamlined, far-reaching, and cost-effective, they had to really consider the customer experience. The customer journey was led from kickoff in the form of a demo for Pueblo leaders to participating home selection to pre-installment assessment and finally to installation day. Throughout this process, program design had to focus on the customer experience to ensure trust was established and joint goals were in the focus.

In the end, New Mexico Gas Co. now has a permanent program proposed for the tribal communities of New Mexico, ensuring lasting success and collaboration in this regard. Dru noted that their biggest takeaway was how important each leg of their tripod of supporting organizations were: New Mexico Gas Co., partner Energy Works, and the particular tribal and housing authorities with which they were working. By keeping those partnerships and the needs of the residents in mind, this program will continue to increase access to energy efficiency services and energy savings to these communities.

Discussions

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 4, 2020

It sounds like the utility made the effort to listen to their Pueblo customers. I would certainly like to know more about what they learned, how they applied it to the program and the follow-up post implementation.  I´m sure there will be lessons learned.

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