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eHEAT History and Development

The Electronic Household Energy Automated Technology (eHEAT) Software was developed as a solution for Minnesota's Energy Assistance Program and Weatherization Assistance Program to serve customers, manage data and streamline program functions including a payment and vendor interaction.

Project Context

Other parameters that should be commonly established considered and monitored in the conduct of the project and the development of its deliverables. This is the context in which the solution can be sought, and delivered, to be considered successful.

  1. This project, while not limited to technology, includes the delivery and implementation of enabling technology
  2. There has been decisions made (recommendations) in prior work (e.g. Task Force) that we should assume are still true and desirable but we do have the latitude to revisit/change them if there is basis
  3. There are multiple projects in various stages that should be integrated with/by the eHEAT project (e.g. Weatherization Audit Tool and Centralized Mail Distribution). 
  4. Wisconsin has a web-based architecture that should be considered as a possible solution architecture
  5. eHEAT stands for Electronic Household Energy Automated Technology.
  6. Due to the use of outsourcing and changing variety of programs; systems should easily integrate with other sources of data.
  7. Local agencies can develop better relationships with contractors than the state can.
  8. It is important to find the balance between the consistency and flexibility.
  9. Not sure how coordinated this effort should be with ROMA.
  10. We should leverage all prior work (e.g. Task Force Report and eHEAT Phase 1).
  11. Assumption: The pool of people eligible for services is increasing (e.g. Northwest engine mechanics are now calling for assistance) in today's economy.
  12. Assumption: We will be unable to appropriately serve all eligible families.

Project Intentions

Intentions describe the purposes or reasons that the effort is undertaken; the end results that are expected from the effort.

  1. Maximize the services to eligible households while balancing the goal to serve more of the households in need.
  2. Improve service to customers in the areas of accessibility, quality, timeliness, consistency and flexibility.
  3. Identify and improve business relationships between customer, agency, energy vendors, advocates, state and other service providers.
  4. Improve the ability to measure the effectiveness of programs.

eHEAT will:

  • Reduce the per-person costs to operate the programs
  • Improve analysis tools
  • Measure and improve outreach
  • Streamline the payment process by centralizing payments
  • Develop tools to increase options for customers to access programs
  • Share necessary customer information with partners
  • Direct customers to other programs they may qualify for
  • Share information and reports regarding program activity and outcomes
  • Improve data and planning capabilities
  • Develop tools to measure the consistency and effectiveness of programs
  • Prioritize the neediest households
  • Add capability to track pre-purchased fuel

Project Phases

The eHEAT project development is designed so each step builds the foundation for the next step. Success is dependent on a concise project definition, which includes stakeholders having input and coming to agreement on the scope of the project. Next, a concise analysis of the business model must be developed in order to apply solutions. Solutions may be accomplished in several ways including applying technology, changing policy or refining business practices. The final step is to develop and implement the solutions.

eHEAT will redefine the EAP and WAP model to support the needs of our customers in today's environment and anticipate future growth and change. This model will encompass all aspects of EAP for procedures and systems to:

Utilize technology toward ensuring flexibility, consistency and integrity of data 

Grant greater access, where necessary, to internal and external customers and suppliers 

This will be accomplished in a multiple phased approach. The phases are outlined below:

Phase I: Project Definition

Phase II: Business Modeling, Planning and Quality Assurance

Phase III: Development and Implementation

Download detailed version of Project Plan

Project Scope

A statement of the project domain; what portion of the world/business that can be examined and potentially provided for by the solution.

The scope of the eHEAT Project includes determining business policy and procedures and providing technology enablement to support the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

For LIHEAP this should include:

  • Determining eligibility (including roll-overs)
  • Determining benefits (including primary, crisis, and repair)
  • Processing vendor payments
  • Customer and vendor interaction
  • Use of (not establishment of) EAP Agency plan
  • State monitoring of the EAP Agency
  • Grant management
  • Support for the Cold Weather Rule
  • Record keeping, analysis, and reporting

For the Weatherization Assistance Program this should include:

  • Determining eligibility and benefits
  • Job monitoring and tracking (Job book)
  • The ability to interface the Weatherization Audit and Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR) results
  • Use of (not establishment of) WAP Agency plan
  • State monitoring of the WAP Agency
  • Grant management
  • Record keeping, analysis, and reporting
  • Tracking and reporting CIP dollars used for weatherizing homes

For fiscal this should include tracking front office and back office financial data, including:

  • Payment to agency information and processing
  • Authorization of vendor payments
  • Notice of funds available (NFA's)
  • Determining financial status (e.g. Financial Status Report, FSR)
  • Encumber agency contracts
  • Record keeping, analysis, and reporting
  • This excludes determining business policy and procedures and providing technology enablement to support the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), Telephone Assistance Programs, and Arrearages Data Collection. It also excludes EAP and WAP planning (establishing the agency plan) and ROMA reporting (primarily for CFL programs that CAPs implement).

The eHEAT project should be coordinated with:

  • Other low-income programs (e.g. TAP, similar eligibility requirements should be similar participation).
  • OEO technology effort. The OEO development process could be the To-Be.
  • Orion (THO) and Other Agency Fiscal system, local agency Central Intake Systems (CIS) including (It is also true various agency have non-THO CIS Systems), MAXIS used by counties (for example: Integration with Client level data system not state level payment system which was discussed earlier), Local agency Inventory systems for WAP (For Job Cost reconciliation and Invoicing), Department of Revenue, Systems (Stores) that keep information on dwellings previously weatherized, As-iIs WAP Database presently being updated and all legacy especially in WAP Database.

Project Values

The set of beliefs, trade-offs, and judgment guidelines that govern the results, the solution and our efforts to obtain them.

We believe in:

  1. Customers right to dignity and privacy - we believe all human beings are to be treated with respect, cultural sensitivity, and courtesy. We believe in treating others as we wish to be treated.
  2. Customers right to ease of entry - we believe in increased participation for the program. We believe the application process should be simple and efficient.
  3. Customers right to equitable access - we believe program policies and design should be based on the principle of including the largest possible pool of applications. We believe that populations, which are under-represented in the program, should be targeted for outreach. We believe that people's needs should be met in a fair and equitable manner.
  4. Customers right to affordable energy costs - we believe that energy and heat in Minnesota are necessities. We believe that energy costs should be a reasonable percent of income. We believe that access to energy services should not solely depend on ability to pay for it. 
  5. Creative means to maintain and further policies - we believe that thinking "outside the box" makes more effective solutions possible.
  6. Flexible means to maintain and further policies - we believe in openness and willingness to be adaptable to those we serve, "there are many ways to get to the right solution."
  7. Advocacy as a means to maintain and further services - we believe that some people need help to access resources.
  8. Equity as a means to maintain and further policies - we believe that everyone has basic rights in America and we support policies that further the ideals of fairness.
  9. Collaboration and teamwork as a means to maintain and further policies - we believe that people and organizations working together can produce extraordinary results. We believe we should respect the unique perspectives of each stakeholder.
  10. Individual responsibility - we believe we are each responsible for contributing to the conditions that accomplish adherence to these values. We believe that all stakeholders are accountable to assume a personal commitment to accomplish adherence to the agreed upon values.

Technology Initiative Project Phase III

The purpose of the eHEAT Project is to utilize state-of-the-art technology to update delivery, management, and accountability for EAP and WAP.

Download project documents here:

  • Phase III Executive Summary
  • Phase III Request for Proposal
  • Phase III RFP Appendices
  • Business Models
  • Phase III Contractor Proposal
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