Karl Hoesch (MPP '20) discusses his passion for access to affordable housing as well as climate change, which directly tied into his work with the Office of Climate and Energy at the State of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in Lansing.
3 years ago, my wife and I bought the 4 unit apartment building where we were living.
As part of our commitment to make our building affordable for low income tenants, we participated in a home energy weatherization program.
This means we improved our buildings energy efficiency in order to save our tenants money on their electric bills.
This experience sparked my interest in energy policy as I enrolled at the Ford School.
Nevertheless, last year I really struggled to narrow down my internship search.
I am a generalist, so I like a lot of things.
In fact when I met with Jennifer from Career Services, and she asked me what I wanted to get out of this experience, the best answer I could give was I want to solve really big problems.
I landed an internship with the Michigan Energy Office in the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
The energy office acts as a bridge between federal and state grant programs and local stakeholders.
And they work on projects that promote clean energy and reduce energy waste.
I worked on a series of pilot programs in three communities that combine solar energy credits with home weatherization programs for low income families.
Our program had three main goals.
We wanted to reduce electricity usage, reduce energy burdens for these families, and improve their home health environment.
And this program fit me perfectly.
I got to work on two really big problems: affordable housing and climate change.
And it jumpstarted my experience in energy policy.
Most exciting was the way I was able to see how the skills and knowledge I learned in my first year at the Ford School applied to my internship.
I want to give you three examples.
First I was working on an analysis of our cherry land pilot, and I wanted to answer question number one: where are subscribers using less electricity?
Which turns out is a really difficult question because temperature variations from year to year can affect how much a household uses.
And we didn't have data on whether they were using air conditioners or portable heaters.
So I use an econometric solution from Program Evaluation.
I regressed electricity usage on temperature data and I found, Yes our subscribers are using less electricity.
Second I wanted to solve this data problem, so I wanted to create two new surveys.
A pre survey and a post survey for future pilot programs.
But I had never created a survey before, so the energy office paid for me to attend a survey course.
And when I did that I was able to start conducting these surveys with the participants of our second pilot program.
Finally as we were preparing for the second pilot program, we wanted to try something new with financing.
And there was a lot of debate among our stakeholders about whether a short term or a long term financing option would be better.
I used to last and from microeconomics about the future value of money to prove that the long term option was not only better for all of our subscribers, but also better for the electric utility.
This experience allowed me to work on two really big problems and helped me plug into the energy policy circuit.
It built on my experience as a landlord and help me to apply my skills from the Ford School.
But best of all I was able to directly connect with the people who are benefiting from our program.
This survey reminds me that even though I don't know exactly what big problems I want to tackle after the Ford school, it's the people who's everyday lives are impacted by these big policies that need to inform the solutions.