The first of its kind, REACH brings together myriad city and community services focused on improving the quality of life within Tallahassee’s lower-income and older neighborhoods. REACH began in 2010 with a focus on helping low-income residents reduce their energy usage and costs. But, some of the city’s poorest residents believed that the city-owned and operated utilities had deliberately overcharged them. To rebuild trust and overcome potential obstacles, REACH began at the grassroots, engaging the community through churches, neighborhood associations and direct personal contact.
The team then went door-to-door to provide residents with free energy assessments, education and installation of energy-saving products to help lower utility costs. Tips were tailored for each resident with the help of the City’s Smart Meters. In addition, the Gas Utility provided rebates to help eligible customers switch to natural gas appliances, which cost less to operate.
At the urging of community partners and leaders, the work didn’t stop with energy efficiency. It evolved so that, while at the home, the team now refers residents to other services such as Emergency Home Repair Program, Elder Care Services, or the Housing Authority. The Fire Department secured grant funding to install smoke detectors and distribute fire extinguishers at no cost to residents. Other groups partnered with residents to repair sidewalks and street lights, replace faded signs, and landscape parks.
The first area served by REACH was the Bond community – before REACH, each winter the Bond community used 8-15 percent more energy per household than the city-wide average. After REACH, Bond’s winter usage was 7 percent less than the city average – saving residents $18 – $25 each month.
The team then went door-to-door to provide residents with free energy assessments, education and installation of energy-saving products to help lower utility costs. Engagement approaches included:
Overall, REACH has served 6,000+ homes, providing nearly 760,000 in financial assistance and saving approximately 6,300 Megawatt hours each year. With lower monthly utility costs, families have greater income to meet their basic needs. REACH also helps stimulate jobs for local contractors providing the upgrades to the homes.
These savings helped reduce consumption enough to defer the need to build another generating plant.
REACH has bridged the gap between the City and residents, forming a bond citizens and local service agencies while bringing a sense of pride, ownership and stewardship to neighbors and neighborhoods.
Neighborhood REACH website
To learn more visit: http://www.talgov.com/you/you-products-home-reach.aspx