Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Confusion over the Save-A-Watt program

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2009 at 12:30 PM

Duke Energy says the Save-A-Watt program would encourage their customers to be more energy-efficient and that the best byproduct of efficiency is a noticeable savings on their electricity bill.

So, what's the problem? Regulators are trying to determine how Duke Energy will be compensated for the program. The company wants to forge ahead, but is their eagerness to implement the program more about money than energy efficiency? You be the judge.

Though, it should be noted, Duke Energy's CEO, Jim Rogers, is frequently accused of Greenwashing and is often mentioned by Fossil Fools Day organizers for saying he's doing something environmentally friendly when, really, he isn't.

Save-A-Watt would offer customers incentives to save energy or use it more efficiently. Some programs would shift power consumption away from peak times. Some would reduce consumption.

Duke wants to get its programs in operation to demonstrate Save-A-Watt’s effectiveness to regulators. And the company says recession-plagued customers need help now in lowering their bills.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan confirms Duke would like to start offering at least some programs in both Carolinas by June 1.

Compensation remains the rub for Save-A-Watt. Standard regulatory practice in the Carolinas would compensate Duke based on the costs of its efficiency programs.

Duke says that approach has been tried for years but fails to create an incentive for utilities to push measures that reduce their sales.

Instead, Duke wants to be paid a return on part of what it would have cost to produce the energy Save-A-Watt saves.

Opponents have objected, saying the “avoided-cost” model would allow Duke to make unreasonably large profits for little conservation. The S.C. commission echoed those concerns when it rejected Save-A-Watt.

Read the rest of this Charlotte Business Journal article here.

Watch this video from Taylorsville, N.C. Several of the town's lights, which are managed by Duke Energy, are left on all day long.

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