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Ohioans Saving Cash and Avoiding Chills with New Utility Programs

February 13, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - New programs are helping Ohio homeowners become more energy-efficient and cut their bills. Through weatherization, home energy audits and rebates on lighting and appliances, Ohio's major utilities are all implementing programs that are changing the way people use energy.

Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, offers an example: American Electric Power has gone from no programs to one pending that would spend $290 million over the next three years, while saving customers $880 million over the life of the energy-efficiency measures.

And American Electric is not alone, Rineholt says.

"Dominion East Ohio has stepped up to the plate; First Energy, Duke - really all the major utilities are making investments in energy efficiency that will benefit all Ohioans."

He also highlights Columbia Gas, which has a program that covers up to 90 percent of the cost for customers who undertake home energy retrofit projects.

By funding these programs, utilities are reducing the demand for power, which lowers prices. The electric programs are designed to achieve Ohio's Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which requires that utilities save at least 22 percent of electricity consumption by 2025.

Forty percent of Ohioans - those with the lowest incomes - qualify for utility programs that provide weatherization services at no cost, Rinebolt points out. He says those measures provide jobs and financial benefits to Ohio's economy.

"We just came through a period where we had a significant amount of funding from the federal stimulus bill. That allowed us to train about 1,100 weatherization workers. With the utilities stepping up, we're able to keep a number of those people on our staff."

Since a number of aging coal-powered power plants are shutting down, Rinebolt says these programs are helping to drive the market for more energy efficiency.

"Coal-powered power plants or new power plants are very expensive to build. They will cost customers a lot of money. It's a lot cheaper for the utilities to eliminate the need to replace those plants by making customers more efficient."

Rinebolt urges all Ohioans to contact their local utility company and see what programs are being offered.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH