|City Not Renewing Energy Smart Program|
|Written by Nancy Bowman|
|Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00|
Although some local businesses and residents benefited from an electricity efficiency program offered by the city the past three years, Tipp City Council members agreed unanimously last week renewing participation – at a higher bill to the city - would not be cost effective.
The Efficiency Smart program was unveiled in 2011 as a voluntary program as part of the city’s participation in the American Public Power (AMP) network of communities offering power service.
The program cost the city $120,000 over three years, Christy Butera, city utilities director said.
The efficiency was the method chosen by city council in 2010 to pay the city share of an Environmental Protection Agency penalty imposed for a 1980s violation at the AMP-owned Gorsuch Station power plant.
Efficiency Smart offered rebates and incentives for energy saving equipment. Among programs offered was one to recycle old, working secondary refrigerators and freezers. The program also provided a link to an on-line store with discounted energy efficient lighting products and offered rebates on more than 20 types of commercial lighting and lighting control upgrades, efficient motors and other equipment.
Butera said the city program participation ends at year end and a decision was needed on whether to sign up for another three years in Efficiency Smart.
During the initial three years, $13,303 in residential rebates was paid while five local businesses took part in the program, including the local schools, mostly for lighting switch outs.
The city during the first three years paid 28 cents per its megawatt hours sold, compared to $1.40 per megawatt hour that would be paid, if program renewal was pursued.
“I don’t field a lot of phone calls asking me for it,” Butera said, saying less than one call a month is normal. Calls usually are made after someone hears of a DP&L rebate program or a commercial/industrial customer is budgeting for an energy efficiency program anyway and is checking to see if any rebates are available, she said.
City Manager Jon Crusey said that because of program-related costs and the way it is structured; only about 20 percent of what the city paid into the program came back to customer incentives during the initial program participation. The balance is for expert advice and overhead.
If the city renews participation at a $600,000 cost over three years, about $120,000 in benefits can be anticipated, Crusey said.
“For 120 grand you are not reducing the amount of energy customers are buying by a significant amount,” he said. “The return on investment, in my eyes, isn’t very good.”
Councilman Joe Gibson asked if the city does nothing further with the program, what would happen. “Nothing,” Butera said.
Councilman Bryan Budding pointed out the city electric rates already are lower than DP&L electric rates.
Council President John Kessler said the city could do its own energy savings education and other programs for much less than $600,000. “I don’t see where it’s beneficial to us,” he said of the Energy Smart program.