Holy Cross Energy ‘a model’ for energy saving programs | PostIndependent.com

Holy Cross Energy ‘a model’ for energy saving programs

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – In a side-by-side comparison with Xcel Energy of customer incentives for energy efficiency, Holy Cross Energy stacks up as a statewide leader, according to a new report issued by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG).

“Holy Cross Energy stands out as a model among the rural electric co-ops,” said Keelin Kelly, energy associate with CoPIRG in Denver and author of the report, “The Other Side of the Street.”

The Glenwood Springs and Aspen municipal electric utilities are doing fairly well too, she said.

“They don’t have quite the same level of incentives as Holy Cross, but they have rolled out better programs in the past few years,” Kelly said.

CoPIRG had already worked with Xcel Energy, the state’s large investor-owned utility, to set a goal of reducing consumer’s consumption of electricity by 11.5 percent over the period from 2008 to 2020.

Xcel launched a broad menu of incentives to help customers meet that goal, including free energy audits and rebates for purchases of high-efficiency lighting, heating and cooling systems, attic and wall insulation, and installation of solar electric systems.

Kelly’s report takes a look at the boundary lines between Xcel territory and several of the rural electric co-ops and municipal electric utilities across Colorado. It compares the incentives offered to households that are just across the street from each other, but are served by different electric utilities.

For the Holy Cross-Xcel comparison, Kelly looked at North Eighth Street in Carbondale. Homes south of the Rio Grande Trail are served by Xcel, while homes north of trail are served by Holy Cross.

Other utilities across Colorado offered few or none of the nine incentives available to Xcel customers that Kelly used as key examples. But Holy Cross Energy already offers five of the incentives and is planning to roll out two more in 2012.

Holy Cross and Xcel customers both have access to free home energy audits and rebates for lighting, water heaters, appliances, and programmable thermostats or energy monitors. In 2012, Holy Cross customers will also be able to apply for rebates for home insulation or to take on a holistic package of energy efficiency renovations.

The only areas where Holy Cross still falls short of the Xcel incentives is in not offering rebates for high-efficiency air conditioners or swamp coolers, and for building an Energy Star-rated new home.

“Energy costs are on the rise and utility energy efficiency programs can play an important role in cutting these costs,” said Kelly. “Our report shows that many Coloradans are missing out because their utilities do not have good programs, but the good news is Roaring Fork Valley residents have better access to these programs than many other Coloradans.”

CoPIRG also handed out information this week in Carbondale about local utility energy efficiency programs so residents can learn about ways to save energy and money.

To view the report online, visit http://www.copirg.org and click on the link to the report in the “From the Newsroom” section.

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