Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc. (WEC) is a rural electric cooperative located in middle-eastern Vermont and has a service area density of 6.3 customers per mile of line. WEC began its DSM efforts in 1992 and now implements an impressive roster of seven DSM programs. WEC’s total DSM expenditure for 1993 was equal to nearly 6% of its gross revenues and its DSM budget for 1994 represents 10% of projected gross revenues, a commitment and level of investment unparalleled by most other utilities.
The key driver for WEC’s aggressive DSM stance was Vermont Public Service Board Docket 5270 which required gas, electric, and combined utilities to file integrated resource plans every three years and also removed many of the financial disincentives to investing in energy efficiency. In turn, WEC’s Board of Trustees recommended that the Co-op aggressively pursue DSM. The fact that WEC has high avoided costs has made DSM a viable option for the Co-op; the Co-op’s high electricity rates, in turn, have boosted program participation.
As a central component of its DSM roster, WEC introduced a direct installation program in which the utility pays 100% of the equipment and installation costs for lighting and water heating retrofit measures. The program, which is the subject of this profile, relies on customer inquiries and telemarketing to identify and schedule retrofits. The program’s contractor, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, arranges installations based on geographic proximity. Then at the time of site visits, retrofit opportunities are identified, and cost effective replacement options are selected by energy specialists guided by a unique lighting protocol and approved by customers. WEC offers an assortment of dozens of varieties of lighting products and literally stocks hundreds of lamps and fixtures on the truck, and both lighting and water heating efficiency measures are implemented on the spot.
The success of the program can be measured in a number of ways. First, the program has resulted in a very high level of measure persistence, with fully 95% of the lamps installed still in place. Second, the program has garnered a very high customer satisfaction level thanks in large part to the flexibility provided to customers in terms of their selection of lamps to be installed. Third, the program has already achieved high levels of participation within its target universe. Fully 26% of WEC’s eligible customers have already participated in the 2.5-year old program Fourth, the program is on target in meeting its goals as energy savings in 1993 almost tripled projected savings.
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