WHAT WE DO
Energy Efficiency Assistance Program
“Working for DWEJ definitely came as an answer to my prayer request. This life-changing experience has impacted my life, as well as my family’s lives in a way that I would have never imagined. It manifested as a source of restoration of my sense of dignity and integrity, which I had been longing for. When I talk about what I do for a living, it gives me a sense of pride that is rewarding and gratifying. Entering into the field that DWEJ works in, definitely represented a new territory for me, and therefore a challenge. I credit my success within this company, first to God’s grace. Second, to the support of a great team of qualified colleagues that care about what they do.” – Carla King
“With the collaboration of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) and Operation Able, I enrolled in the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and graduated with honors. The impact DWEJ has made on my life and career has been life changing. Midway through my career, DWEJ gave me an opportunity to work with people again, and change their lives! DWEJ is an awesome organization to be a part of. Its mission has made and is still making a positive impact in the City of Detroit. DWEJ is all about making sure people live in a healthy and safe community. My experience has been a blessing and I am grateful. I’m surrounded by caring, intelligent, and remarkable people, who want to make a difference in the World for ALL people. I am proud to be one of their team members.” – Anetha Walker
What is the Energy Efficiency Assistance Program?
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DWEJ’s Energy Efficiency Assistance (EEA) Program was born out of our Future Build Construction Group. We hired three graduates from its weatherization workforce training program on May 16th, 2017, to work on the EEA program. We are happy to say that Anetha and Carla, two of our success stories, still work with us to this day.
Image – EEAP Promo 1
DWEJ is one of a handful of groups in Detroit who were commissioned by DTE Energy, the city’s electric and natural gas utility, to work with low-income residents in order to help them save money on their energy bills. Since Michigan energy efficiency standards were adopted in 2008, utility companies have been required to create Energy Efficiency Assistance (EEA) programs as part of the legislation. DTE launched its own EEA program in 2009, with a portion of this program devoted to helping low-income residents. Low-income communities have been found to pay too high a percentage of their income on their energy bills.
Image DTE EEA program
DTE’s early attempts included supplementing federal weatherization dollars to specialized agencies, but this proved insufficient in supporting low-income communities. The company found itself having to ramp up its efforts to meet program goals. DTE however, like many utilities, often struggled to attract participants for their low-income energy efficiency programs, due in part to language barriers, lack of information, negative past experiences with utility shutoffs, and the complex paperwork required to enroll. To remedy this issue, they created partnerships with more than 30 agencies and organizations that served and understood the needs and concerns of low-income residents. DWEJ was one of the organizations who partnered with DTE.
In 2014 DTE added the Supporting Energy Efficiency in Detroit (SEED) Homes program to its EEA program as a way to further expand the utility’s energy efficiency services by combining them with existing bill assistance benefits. DTE supplemented its partner organizations’ existing resources with its own funds generated from utility ratepayer surcharges, allowing its partners to expand their services to include energy efficiency improvements. In exchange, these nonprofit organizations, affordable housing providers, local municipalities, and regional community action agencies, have helped DTE increase program participation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount comparable to the annual energy-related emissions of more than 1,000 homes in one year alone.
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By doing our part in this large-scale statewide project, we not only help DTE honor its mandate to meet Michigan’s energy efficiency standards, we also help our low-income residents lower their costs and in turn, reduce their emissions. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved. More practically speaking, by making it possible for eligible participants to replace some of their old household appliances with newer more energy efficient ones, we change lives in our community for the better. Through this work, DWEJ can tackle 0 and improve – yet another environmental justice issue in Detroit.
Image – Anetha and Carla working
Day-to-day Work in the EEA Program
We are proud of the work we do, but none of it would be possible without our devoted staff: Lynette Cobb, Carla King, and Anetha Walker.
Every day, our Energy Efficiency Specialists, Carla and Anetha, receive numerous calls from local DTE Energy customers looking to benefit from the free services our program offers. Their role is to educate callers on the cost savings they would get if they replaced some of their household appliances (light bulbs, refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters) with more energy efficient models. After that, they perform an assessment of each customer’s annual income to determine if they qualify for the DTE Energy EEA Program. Once the assessment is complete and the customers have demonstrated their eligibility, Carla and Anetha create cases for our program to resolve.
Lynette, our EEA Program Manager, then works with private contractors and delivery people to make sure approved residents get their new appliances delivered and installed. Anetha and Carla also go into homes to help with the installation of LED light bulbs. Participants are educated about the EEA program, energy efficiency measures, the equipment being installed, and the positive impact this will have on their energy bills, as well as on their emissions. We have experienced strong customer satisfaction as a result of our hard work and our customers are very happy with the services they receive from us!
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Positive Impacts of the EEA Program
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By helping families lower the burden of their high energy costs through our EEA program, we have helped improve:
Energy bills: Program participants enjoy energy cost savings
Quality of life: They develop more confidence in their ability to pay bills and avoid power shutoffs
Homes: By undergoing energy upgrades, participants’ homes become more comfortable and safer to live in
Air quality: Energy is saved and so less pollutants are emitted into the atmosphere by polluting and expensive power plants which also reduces the need to build new power plants
Public health: By improving air quality, Detroit residents run a lower risk of suffering from four of the leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, heart disease, and stroke, which are often directly associated with the presence of these pollutants in our atmosphere
Reliability: Reduced energy use also puts less strain on the electric system infrastructure that delivers our energy. This is particularly important given the amount of reliability issues we have in Michigan.
Job creation: Tens of thousands of jobs are created in Michigan by the energy efficiency industry. These jobs take up two-thirds of the state’s clean energy jobs. These include jobs like the ones Lynette, Carla’s and Anetha’s have with our EEA program, as well as jobs related to retrofitting ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in schools, insulating homes, manufacturing ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, etc.