Black Hills Energy
What Black Hills Energy will offer:
Black Hills Energy’s plan would cover home energy audits and rebates on energy-efficient water heaters, furnaces and boilers.
The natural gas utility would also pay up to $750 for upgrades such as insulation that improve a home’s thermal envelope.
For builders, the utility would provide rebates of up to $5,000 for new homes that have high energy efficiency ratings.
The plan also includes programs for low-income consumers and energy efficiency education geared toward school children.
What the plan would cost:
To cover the $12.5 million program, Black Hills is asking to increase rates by $13 a year for the average residential customer.
Those who don’t participate in the program could see their bills go up by $26 a year on average.
In its first year, the plan is expected to reach about 3,000 of Black Hills’ 110,000 regional customers.
How the plan could change the gas bill:
The utility is also asking to change the structure of how it charges for natural gas. Today, Black Hills gathers revenue based on how much natural gas its consumers use.
As part of its energy efficiency proposal, Black Hills is requesting revenue decoupling, which would require that the Kansas Corporation Commission set how much revenue the utility could generate and then have the utility collect that set amount from consumers.
The company is also asking to share a portion of the savings generated by the energy efficiency programs.
Under the proposal, Black Hills shareholders would receive 10 percent of the total net benefit from the energy savings.
What Westar Energy offers now:
Unlike Black Hills, Westar isn’t bringing one comprehensive energy efficiency plan to the KCC, said Gina Penzig, consumer services manager for the company. Instead, the utility is receiving approval program by program.
Already, the electric utility has put three energy efficiency programs in place.
Across its service area, Westar has been installing programmable thermostats for free.
The thermostats allow users to change the temperature over the Internet.
In return, Westar can tap into the thermostat during hot summer days and turn off air conditioners 15 minutes at a time.
Doing so allows Westar to reduce the amount of energy needed when demand is at its highest.
Westar also has a program that covers half the cost of a 56-hour class geared toward showing facility managers places in their company they can save on energy consumption.
Also, the utility has an education program that sends employees and volunteers to classrooms, community events and homeshows to talk about what residents can do to reduce energy consumption.
What Westar will offer in the future:
In the near future, Penzig said Westar plans to offer classes that provides homeowner education on energy conservation, such as how to caulk windows and cleaning refrigerator coils.
Westar also wants to participate in the Efficiency Kansas program, which provides low-interest loans for energy efficiency upgrades in homes.
Residents then repay those loans overtime through utility bills.
What the plan will cost:
So far, Westar customers haven’t seen a rate increase for the utility’s energy efficiency programs. But they probably will.
Penzig said the company has kept an account in place that tracks how much they’ve spent on the program.
The company plans to file a request with the KCC to put a surcharge on the electric bill to recoup the cost of energy efficiency programs, similar to what it does now for its environmental costs.
While Penzig said the company doesn’t have an exact figure of how much could be added onto the average electric bill, she predicts it wouldn’t be more than a few cents per month.