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Energy Efficiency Programs: What You Can Apply Now

March 24, 2011

In light of the current economic conditions that the country is facing right now, several programs have been placed in the priority list that will address some of the most critical issues faced by Americans right now. One such issue is on the use and consumption of electricity, wherein a national program was set into motion to generate interest among consumers in various states to participate in energy efficiency programs starting with their own homes.

Texas has been at the forefront of the nationwide energy efficiency drive with residents given the power to choose their energy options in a bid to reduce consumption of Texas electricity. Such programs include rebates from their property taxes that eventually pay for the energy efficiency improvements done in their individual homes. Such improvements can include the installation of solar panels or improving a home’s insulation system and optimize use of electricity.

These incentive programs are aimed at reducing the up-front costs that homeowners will incur as they set out and initiate energy efficiency improvements in their homes and improve their use of Texas electricity. Not only that, energy efficiency improvements will enable homeowners to gain considerable savings from their electricity bills as well as a focus on alternative energy resources that will eventually pave the way for the availability of really cheap electricity for all consumers to enjoy.

Legislation

Energy efficiency programs were officially initiated when the 75th Texas Legislature promulgated into law the requirement for meeting specific energy efficiency goals that the electric TDUs or Texas Transmission and Distribution Utilities would have to meet. The procedures required to meet these goals were outlined in the Energy Efficiency Rule provided by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

The rule specifies that TDUs should offer energy efficiency programs to consumers within their respective electricity distribution territories. Such programs include installation or home improvements designed to increase a home’s overall energy efficiency such proper insulation, use of high efficiency lighting fixtures and the installation of solar energy systems among other. These programs are extended not only to residential communities but also to schools, local governments and businesses in order to reduce their operating costs and save Texas electricity.

These home improvements however, will be installed or performed not by the TDUs themselves but will be coursed through third-party providers or what is more commonly called now as project sponsors. These providers include contractors and installers for insulation, lighting, and air conditioning. Project sponsors also include the retail electric providers and other energy efficiency companies.

What the Texas Consumer Can Apply Now

There are various energy efficiency incentive programs initiated by the local distribution utilities in the various towns and cities in Texas, each of whom were mandated to meet energy efficiency goals. These incentive programs come in the form of Standard Offer Programs (SOP), with payments based on the energy efficiency performance achieved. Participation in these SOPs varies depending on the type of program initiated. These programs include:

  • Residential and Small Commercial Programs – these are geared towards providing incentives for energy efficiency improvements that are installed to reduce electricity consumption and peak demand
  • Commercial Programs – Has a specific minimum demand requirement for eligibility and provides incentives for energy efficiency installations and measures that will reduce peak demand and increase Texas electricity savings
  • Low Income Programs – Energy efficiency programs that are targeted towards households having annual incomes that are below or at 200% of the federal poverty guideline.
  •  Load Management Programs – These are designed to encourage efficient control of electrical loads such as shifting of electric loads from peak-demand hours to off-peak periods.

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