The State Journal has a story today about how the Charleston Area Alliance is kicking off a competition designed to teach people on Charleston’s East End how to develop strategies to cut their energy use. It’s a great idea, but as the Charleston Gazette’s Jim Balow pointed out in his story yesterday:
A key to the program is the free energy audit — the HomeSMART energy assessment — offered by Appalachian Power, which identifies places where your home is wasting energy and suggests ways to improve efficiency.
You can sign up for an audit at the meeting Tuesday night, do it online or call Apco, Naumoff said.
However, the state Public Service Commission limits Apco to auditing no more than 20 homes a month, which could create a bit of a bottleneck.
“I would think if there’s a huge, huge demand, I would hope they would re-evaluate that,” she said, “but it’s also an incentive to sign up early.
Once again, we have a perfect example of a community initiative that is way out in front of power companies and regulators. As a result of Energy Efficient WV’s intervention in APCo’s last rate case, the WV PSC required that APCo put in place a largely ineffectual efficiency improvement program. The program was minimal, but it was an important first step.
As part of APCo’s efficiency program, the company provides a free “HomeSMART energy assessment” to APCo customers. The problem is that this is just a walk through assessment, not a real energy audit. The assessment largely consists of someone walking through your house and telling you what light bulbs to change and what appliances you should switch to Energy Star appliances. There is very little direct assistance in the APCo program that actually helps rate payers finance any improvements.
And, on top of all that, according to the WV PSC order, APCo can only do 20 of these assessments per month.
Pathetic. Let’s hope that the Charleston Area Alliance can hold APCo’s feet to the fire. If APCo won’t lead, at least they can follow. One thing is sure, the PSC and APCo are certainly in the way.