Dropping Utility Costs without Interrupting Service
Electricity prices have been rising over the past few years and they are expected to continue to increase by about 1 percent this year and another 2 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
As a result of rising energy costs, many households are trying to find ways to reduce their utility bills.
Other than using energy-efficient products and adopting energy-saving habits, consumers can also take advantage of the money-saving programs that are offered by a number of utility companies.
Here’s a look at a few of these programs.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Pacific Gas and Electric Company helps their customers save money by offering rebates and incentives.
Customers will be eligible for rebates when they upgrade their household products to new energy-efficient products. Incentives are given to customers who undertake certain energy-saving projects, such as retrofitting and installation of energy-efficient equipment.
They have to pre-qualify with the company before they begin their projects and their incentive amounts will be based on the amounts of energy that will be saved following the completion of their projects.
Other money-saving programs that are available to customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company include Savings By Design and HVAC Quality Maintenance.
Piedmont Electric Membership Cooperation
Piedmont Electric Membership Cooperation has several programs that provide opportunities for its customers to lower their utility bills. It offers special rates to customers who make an extra effort to reduce their electrical consumption.
According to an article entitled "Planning for Utility Costs in Your Monthly Budget,” some of the measures that people can take to cut their energy use include undergoing an energy audit, using LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs, turning off unused appliances and lights and reducing the temperature setting on water heaters.
Additionally, Piedmont Electric also offers credits to customers who conserve energy during peak times and install switches for turning off air conditioners and water heaters, as well as rebates for purchasing energy-efficient products.
Baltimore Gas and Electric
Baltimore Gas and Electric created the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program to offer homeowners and business owners an array of options to save energy and money.
This program supports the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act. Homeowners can lower their utility bills by participating in the company's residential programs, such as the Smart Energy Rewards, Peak Rewards, ENERGY STAR for New Homes, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, Quick Home Energy Check-Up and Natural Gas Connection programs.
They can also get rewards by purchasing energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, lighting and appliances and recycling their refrigerators and freezers.
For business owners, Baltimore Gas and Electric offers four money saving programs; namely, the Small Business Energy Solutions, Energy Solutions for Business, Retrocommissioning and Combined Heat and Power programs.
Almost every utility company in the United States has energy-efficiency programs to help households, businesses and organizations lower their utility bills. Those who take part in these programs can save a substantial amount of money in the long run, as well as contribute to the betterment of the environment.
About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to Cloud computing.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.