City expands Efficiency Smart program

Terry Rogers Government & Politics

City Hall Milford, DE .

On Feb. 8, Milford City Council heard a presentation by Tom Coyle of Efficiency Smart, the company that provides energy savings options to businesses and residents in Milford. Coyle provided council with details on how much customers had saved in the city as well as goals that had been met since the city agreed to join the project three years ago.

“Over the past three years, we have achieved 107 percent of our goal in energy savings for the city,” Coyle said. “This has led to a lifetime customer savings of over $2.8 million. Over the past three years, we have provided over 4,000 large business solutions and almost 900 small business solutions as well as over 3,400 residential solutions to help save energy. When we first launched, Milford was one of the first members of DEMEC to sign on. Now, all eight members have joined, and we have dedicated staff, including an account manager as well as an energy consultant.”

DEMEC paid for the first three years of the Efficiency Smart program which is a hands-on service that interacts directly with electricity end users to reduce their usage. The company provides information and incentives to promote changes in behavior as well as upgrades in technology to promote energy reduction. The company offers a resources webpage, online chat and electric bill advise for residential customers as well as an online home energy assessment that allows customers to enter information and find where they could save energy.

“Many of the services we offer are things that are no cost,” Coyle said. “Customers who are frustrated about usage can contact us and we will walk them through the electric bill to see how they can reduce usage. We talk to businesses about switching to LED lights and encourage them to purchase those lights locally. We provide information about heat pump rebates, appliance recycling awards and the Small Business Buy Local options.”

Nationwide Healthcare Services utilized the company after taking over the Milford Memorial Hospital Clarke Avenue location. According to Coyle, the building’s automation system was set for the hospital which was leading to additional energy consumption. Through advice provided by Efficiency Smart, Nationwide was able to cut their energy bill in half, saving them approximately $40,000.

“DEMEC is still committed to paying for the Basic Performance package, which is $615,304 for three years,” Coyle said. “Based on the benefits Milford has received from the basic package, we recommend upgrading to the High Performance Demand Focus package at a cost of $957,140 for three years. When the amount paid by DEMEC is deducted, the cost to Milford will be $341,836 over three years.”

Lou Vitola, City Finance Director, explained to council that Efficiency Smart had gone above and beyond over the past three years. He recommended that the program be upgraded as the higher-level option would add a demand reduction target to specifically reduce Milford’s peak load. This reduction would result wholesale power cost reductions.

“In addition to the economic benefit, the ability of professional resources and expertise go a long way with our commercial and industrial customers looking to build new or retrofit existing facilities,” Vitola said. “One way we can incentivize energy efficiency is through an enhancement of the Green Energy Fund. Delaware code requires that all electric utilities charge a base rate of $0.000178 per kWh, which Milford has been charging since it was mandated. This has resulted in an average of $3,500 per month collected and these funds may be used for community-wide incentives to promote energy products that ultimately lower power costs. The state allows us to charge up to $0.000356 per kWh. We also have a Purchased Power Cost Adjustment (PPCA) credit of $0.000641 per k/Wh that will be effective with the February billing cycles. This means that the credit will offset the added Green Energy Fund amount, allowing the city to upgrade the Efficiency Smart program without raising electric rates or using budgetary funding sources.”

Vitola also explained that if components of the new police facility meet energy efficiency or renewable energy requirements, the associated debt service or other costs of those components could be repaid with green energy funds. The utilization of $5,000 to $7,000 in green energy funding per month on eligible components of the new police facility could reduce the cost of the building between $1.6 and $2.25 million, lowering the tax burden on property owners.

Council voted 7 to 0 to approve both the expansion of the Efficiency Smart program and the amendment to the Green Energy rate.

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