Duke settlement paying to improve energy efficiency

Published 1/29/2018 | Alexander Coolidge | Cincinnati Enquirer

An effort to boost the region’s residential energy efficiency will launch Monday with $500,000 from Duke Energy’s $80 million settlement in from an overbilling dispute.

The program offers homeowners and landlords interest-free loans to pay for residential improvements from insulation to smart thermostats. The loans would be paid back by customers over three to five years with the savings from the upgrades.

In 2015, Duke Energy agreed to pay $80 million to tens of thousands of customers who were overbilled between 2005 and 2008, while 22 large commercial clients got rebates. Of the settlement, roughly $8 million was set aside for energy-efficiency programs.

Duke settles case over special treatment for $80M

Specifically, the program is made possible through a grant awarded to local energy analytics firm EmpowerSaves and housing nonprofit Cincinnati Development Fund by the Duke Class Benefit Fund.

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Officials hope to lend out the $500,000 to roughly 200 to 250 homeowners or landlords to each make upwards of $3,500 worth of energy improvements. As it is paid back, the money would be loaned out again.

Officials estimate ratepayers could save as much as 25 percent off their annual utility bills from the improvements, potentially hundreds of dollars a year.

EmpowerSaves has set up an online analysis tool for interested utility customers to assess their potential energy savings at: https://www.empowersaves.com/online-assessment/. The website will instantly project the expected savings, cost of installation, and the monthly payment amount for their specific home.

Customers who then wish to enroll in the program fill out a short form and are instantly put in touch with a trained energy consultant, who will make energy and money-saving upgrades to the customers home in a matter of days.

The program, available to Ohio residents in the Duke Energy service area, will launch Monday afternoon at a press conference attended by Mayor John Cranley.

“My administration is working to build a greener, more energy-efficient city, because it cuts our citizens’ energy costs dramatically and it is good for our environment”. Cranley said in a statement. “I’m happy to join EmpowerSaves and Cincinnati Development Fund as they roll out this program that will complement our efforts.”