US utility Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD) set aside a budget of $150,000 to help low-income customers pay their energy bills this winter.The decision by EPUD to include the $150,000 budget to help its customers to pay their bills, follows an increase in consumers’ energy bills by 64% this winter.
The increase in consumers’ energy usage and costs is due to low-temperature conditions forcing residents in Oregon state to increase their use of HVAC systems.
However, Kevin Parrislow, president of the board of directors at EPUD, said: “Weather conditions in neighbouring states made it possible to purchase power at a very low cost this winter, and Emerald PUD wants to pass on those savings to our customers.”
The utility firm will direct $50,000 of the announced budget towards its Helping Hands Payment Assistance Programme.
Scott Coe, general manager at EPUD, said: “With this additional funding, we expect to provide more local families with greater relief.”
With the $50,000 budget, EPUD will increase the number of households benefiting from the Helping Hands Payment Assistance Programme to over 300.
In addition to increasing the number of beneficiaries, the programme will provide customers in need with $300 to pay their energy bills. Previously, the programme provided $200 towards consumers’ energy bills.
Energy bills reduction measures
$100,000 will be available to help all customers of EPUD to improve their energy efficiency. Consumers will receive incentives in the form of rebates and interest-free financing to install energy efficient heat pumps.
“These funds will be awarded on a first come, first-serve basis,” added Coe.
In 2016, EPUD helped 268 consumers with $45,000 through federal utility assistance programmes and the Helping Hands Assistance Programme.
Energy efficiency budget
The news follows an announcement made in mid-November by the city of Lawrence in the US state of Kansas that it budgeted $11.4 million to implement an energy efficiency programme to reduce its energy usage and costs.
The energy efficiency programme includes 40 clean energy and energy efficiency projects which the city will deploy in partnership with 360 Energy Engineers.
The projects are a result of the city’s efforts in reducing its carbon footprint as well as ensure Kansas state achieves a stable grid by signing to the state’s Facilities Conservation Improvement Programme (FCIP).
The FCIP helps government institutions identify measures on how they can reduce their energy usage and bills through multiple measures including the adoption of clean energy and smart grid technologies. Through the FCIP programme, the city of Lawrence identified energy efficiency potentials in 40 of its buildings and facilities.
The city will use the $11.4 million to install LED lights, streetlights and their control systems to save up to $130,000 in energy bills per annum. [US city approves $4.3m budget for AMI rollout].
The city will also upgrade its HVAC systems by installing web-based thermostats. The internet-controlled thermostats will cost $60,000 to install.