Waverly Light and Power is an inspiring model of what a small, municipal utility can do to promote local economic and sustainable development through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. While energy efficiency advocates have enthusiastically pointed to Osage, Iowa as the consummate example of a small town's successful experience with energy efficiency, Waverly, Iowa stands prominently at the front of the second generation of small municipal utilities that have embodied integrated resource planning and the promotion of customer energy efficiency, also with marked success.
Waverly’s most compelling reason to do long term, integrated resource planning was not so unique: Its future resource mix is uncertain since its favorable power contract with Midwest Power Systems expires in 1999. But a series of less usual events transpired in Waverly that led to this small town’s unique success. Two of its Board members became inspired by Osage’s positive experiences with energy efficiency and local economic development. Not only had Osage deferred the need for additional capacity, but its efficiency programs have clearly benefitted the local economy with rate reductions and the expansion of a major manufacturing plant in town, meaning more jobs. (See The Results Center Profile #5) Waverly’s leaders wondered if the same results might be possible in their town.
To pursue its vision the Board hired an energy efficiency advocate by the name of Glenn Cannon to become WL&P’s General Manager. Despite his inexperience at the helm of a utility, he was selected to chart its new course. Cannon in turn commissioned the company’s first integrated resource plan, a plan that helped the utility further explore and envision its future balance of supply and demand-side resources. The plan also mapped a cost effective strategy for customer energy efficiency programs and provided the economic rationale for investments in renewable energy resources, notably wind.
Today, Waverly offers a comprehensive set of residential, commercial, and industrial efficiency programs for its customers which have been well received and which have provided a new course for the utility. Its Board and management have embodied their notion of "the obligation to con-serve." Clearly Waverly Light and Power has been challenged by its own size, and limited staff and resources to implement its DSM programs, but its staff have been able to clearly benefit from the small size of the town and the fact that word travels fast in Waverly. As such, raising awareness of the potentials for efficiency has been relatively easy, and total expenditures on direct incentives have been a fraction of the overall DSM budget, proving that effective communication and education can motivate customers in the absence of large incentives, perhaps especially in small towns with publicly owned utilities.
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