Update: The South Carolina Public Service Commission approved Duke Energy Carolinas’ proposed Small Business Energy Saver and Smart Energy in Offices programs on July 9, 2014.
They say you can’t get something for nothing, but in South Carolina, small businesses and offices may soon be eligible to receive valuable energy assistance at little or no cost through new programs designed to help them lower their electricity bills.
Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC), which serves customers in the northwestern quadrant of South Carolina, recently proposed two new energy efficiency programs that would provide cost-effective measures to reduce commercial electricity consumption. The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, the state’s public advocate in utility regulatory proceedings, recommends that the South Carolina Public Service Commission authorize DEC to add the proposed programs (Docket Numbers 2014-252-E and 2014-253-E) to its existing portfolio of energy efficiency offerings. We expect the Commission to rule on the company’s proposals in the near future.
Small businesses in the age of globalization have enough to worry about, and the chance to improve profit margins and ensure job growth through energy efficiency cannot be overlooked. To reach the goal of helping businesses to realize their savings potential, DEC’s proposed Small Business Energy Saver program is modeled after a program offered by sister-company Duke Energy Progress in South Carolina and North Carolina. The program would offer DEC’s small business customers a no-cost, no-obligation energy assessment and recommended energy efficiency measures, along with projected energy savings and estimates for material and installation costs. In addition, the program would provide significant incentives for customers to pursue the recommended measures, covering up to 80% of the total cost.
In the high seas of brightly lit office cubicles, stocked with overworked computers buzzing day and night, hides a cornucopia of energy saving opportunities waiting to be tapped. Fortunately, DEC has submitted a plan for doing just that. The proposed Smart Energy in Offices program is based on a DEC pilot program in North Carolina, and would provide detailed energy consumption data and educational materials to help tenants and property managers to implement effective energy saving campaigns. Each participating customer would designate a representative to provide quarterly updates to DEC, and to take the lead in engaging with building occupants to drive behavior change and reduce energy consumption.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League recently filed joint comments urging the Commission to approve the proposed programs, and offering two recommendations. With its expanding portfolio of energy efficiency programs, DEC is making significant strides in its efforts to reduce wasted energy in South Carolina, and that means lower bills for utility customers and a healthier environment for everyone. While the company still has a lot of room for improvement in its energy efficiency plans, the newly proposed programs are a step in the right direction.