A bill headed to the governor would raise the amount of renewable energy sources used by state electric companies.

Efficiency Smart program helps Milford residents save on electric costs

Terry RogersGovernment, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

A bill headed to the governor would raise the amount of renewable energy sources used by state electric companies.

Efficiency Smart helps customers in the City of Milford save on their electric bills

For more than four years, the City of Milford has worked with Efficiency Smart. As a member of DEMEC, who is the wholesale electric supplier for the eight public power companies in Delaware, and a member of AMP, a joint action agency, offers the program to their customers.

“There’s a DEMEC saying, and I am going to get in trouble for stealing this from them,” Lou Vitola, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Milford, said. “There is a great saying that goes, “You have to have your energy efficiency vegetables before you have your renewable energy dessert.” Everybody loves wind and solar and battery storage and all these great things that can pump renewable energy onto the grid. But one less megawatt of demand on the grid itself is just as good as that next incremental supply side generation. So, the idea is that first we need to get energy efficient and then we carry about supplementing the grid with renewables. They really are happening concurrently, which is great. But that’s the importance of Efficiency Smart.”

Vitola pointed out that there had been recent talk about DEMEC and their regulatory lobbyists attempting to control the city’s ability to create and use renewable energy. The reports were that DEMEC was pushing for the renewable energy sources to not be mandated. However, according to Vitola, DEMEC simply wanted municipalities to be able to follow their own path and have the flexibility to do what their citizens wanted them to do. This is one of the benefits of Efficiency Smart as it encourages people to conserve energy in order to save money on their electric bill.

“We are about halfway through our second three-year cycle,” Tom Coyle, Director of Account Management with Efficiency Smart, said. “It is just a good opportunity to touch base and let you know where things stand. In our first three year contract, which was a performance contract with a goal, we ended up getting about 110 percent of that goal over the three years with a lifetime savings of just over $2.8 million for your customers. Milford was one of the first to have what are called coincident peak summer kilowatt goals. Reducing those helps Milford and DEMEC lower transmission capacity costs.”

Efficiency Smart is available to all Milford electric customers, providing advice on products and offering discounts or rebates on energy improvements. For example, Gigante in Milford is now offering Greenlite LED light bulbs for just 99 cents while small businesses may be eligible for incentives when they switch to LED lighting. Coyle provided details on where the program stood in meeting goals currently and, as of the end of July, Milford was only at 14 percent of its three year megawatt goal and only 10 percent of the summer kilowatt goal.

“At this point, I would love to be above 40 percent in actual goals,” Coyle said. “We just run into a problem. All energy efficiency programs ran into a problem, the entire world ran into a problem known as COVID,” Coyle said. “We went through about a one year period where you couldn’t get into factories, you couldn’t get into schools and hospitals. So, getting to engage people face-to-face became a problem there. Obviously, as you all are aware, there are issues with supply chain and there are issues with labor. The nice thing is that it is all starting to go away. I know this has been true across the entire Efficiency Smart portfolio and other efficiency programs in the country. The last six months or so things have returned much more to normal. People are engaged, people are planning projects. You guys know in Milford specifically, there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of new development. There’s a lot of projects being done a lot of people looking at doing some bigger projects that they had to hold off. And that’s obviously good to see. And so that is sort of where we where we are.”

Coyle explained that reaching the kilowatt goals were harder to reach than megawatt goals, explaining that reaching 100 megawatt hours in a project usually resulted in about 15 to 20 percent in kilowatt savings. He also stated that even with the lower goal achievement, customers were seeing over a half million in lifetime savings.

“That is installed life expectancy,” Coyle said. “So, whether it is a new air compressor, a new HVAC unit, a new appliance, whatever happens for the life of that unit, that’s how much it saves consumers. Since we began the program over four and a half years ago, that is a lifetime customer savings of a hair over $3.3 million.”

Efficiency Smart offers an appliance recycling promotion that is designed to encourage homeowners to replace older appliances with newer, more energy efficient appliances. All appliances must be in working condition. In addition, only certain appliances are included in the rebate program. These include refrigerators and freezers between 10 and 30 cubic feet as well as dehumidifiers and window air conditioners. Dehumidifiers must be at least 15 pint models while there is no size limitation for window units.

“If you have one of these appliances, we will come pick it up and pay you $50,” Coyle said. “During the three month period that ends at the end of September, we will pay you $100. So if you are thinking about buying a new refrigerator, freezer, window air conditioner or dehumidifier, we’re going to pay you $100 for a qualified new one if you have it picked up in the next 30 days.”

Milford electric customers can sign up for Efficiency Smart by visiting https://efficiencysmart.org/milford-delaware.

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