I know that this post is about 2 months 2 late. But when these programs were announced, I eh yaaaaawned. Why is it that Illinois is mired in the past? These programs were all the rage in the 1980’s. Most intelligent utilities established them in the 1990’s. OH never mind…
February 22, 2008 Business section, the State Journal Register:
Utilities offering incentives to cut power usage
By TIM LANDIS
That old refrigerator could be worth $35 this summer. Provided it was made prior to 1993.
A refrigerator-recycling program is among a laundry list of consumer incentives that will
be offered in Illinois starting June 1 to encourage reduced power usage. The state’s two
largest utilities, Ameren and ComEd, both were required to submit the plans as part of a
$1 billion rate-relief package approved by legislators and the governor last year.
Ameren customers will pay on average another 36 cents a month to cover the cost of the
programs, according to the utility.
“The idea is to reduce usage during the periods of peak demand,” said Beth Bosch of the
Illinois Commerce Commission, which just approved energy-savings programs for both
Ameren and ComEd in Chicago.
Last year’s rate-relief plan resulted after power bills for some consumers doubled and
tripled with the lifting of a 10-year freeze on rates Jan. 1, 2007. The freeze was part of a 1997
utility reform bill intended to encourage more competition in Illinois power markets.
As part of the rate-relief package, the utilities were required to devise incentive programs
for reducing customer use.
The 13 energy-saving measures in the Ameren program range from refrigerator recycling
to a voluntary initiative that would allow the utility to remotely switch off residential central-air
units for a few minutes during peak demand.
Large industrial customers have long had the option of interruptible service.
Florida was among the early states to set up voluntary interruption-of-service programs
for residential electric customers, said David Ko-lata, executive director of the Citizens Utility
Board, a Chicago-based consumer advocacy group.
CUB also played a key role in devising last year’s rate-relief plan.
“The way these programs work, is when prices get really high, you cycle the air conditioner
off for 15 minutes (each hour). The consumer usually gets paid $20 to $30 a year so the utility
has that option,” Kolata said.
He called the energy-saving programs a “good start,” but said CUB also remains concerned
that utilities are largely responsible for implementing the programs.
Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris said details still must be worked out, including for the
refrigerator recycling. He added that the voluntary interruption of service likely would attract
only a small percentage of customers.
“All of these programs are aimed at reducing usage without sacrificing comfort,” Morris said.
Ameren has set a goal of reducing electricity demand equal to the usage of 7,700 single-family
homes in the first year, 23,300 homes in the second year and 46,700 in the third. The utility
just filed a similar energy-savings program for natural gas customers, which still must be approved
by the ICC.
Tim Landis can be reached at 788-1536.
CES is underwhelmed.