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OPALCO reported 1,181,291 kWh of implemented energy savings for 2010 to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), who administers and funds OPALCO’s conservation program. This includes residential and commercial savings and equates to about $82,690 given an average rate of $.07/kWh (including residential and commercial rates). “The typical residential member uses about 1000 kWh/month” said Anne Bertino, Assistant Energy Services Manager. “So we could look at the above savings as taking approximately 100 homes off the grid last year.”

The energy efficiency measures implemented for these savings include residential rebates for appliances, window replacement, insulation addition and heat pumps; commercial rebates for grocery store refrigeration upgrades, lighting upgrades and a custom heating project for the Lopez schools. Also included are the hundreds of compact fluorescent bulbs installed as part of the Home Snapshot Energy Assessments. The biggest savings came from the biggest projects: grocery store upgrades and commercial lighting. Residential heat pump ($300 – $1,900 each) and ductless heat pump ($1,500 each) rebates brought in the most savings on the residential side; the greatest participation in the program was through rebates for clothes washers ($70 rebate, if electric hot water heating).

What’s new for 2011? Bertino is excited about a new rebate for air sealing. “The new air sealing rebate will help members keep the heat in and the cold out,” said Bertino. “A Performance Tested Comfort Systems (PTCS) certified technician will test the home before and after weather stripping and caulking are installed—to document the measure and the results.”

What is the best way for an OPALCO member to get started saving energy and money? Bertino encourages members to sign up for a Home Snapshot Energy Assessment to determine how their home is performing and what energy efficiency measures will have the greatest impact. The certified contractors who perform the Home Snapshot Energy Assessments provide members with a comprehensive report, recommendations on energy efficiency measures that could make a difference and will provide and install CFL bulbs and low-flow showerheads, if desired. Call 376-3586 to sign up for a Home Snapshot Energy Assessment. Members can also go to to learn more about the rebates that are available. “Energy efficiency is the best thing we can all do to control our energy costs,” said General Manager Randy Cornelius. “In the next four to five years, OPALCO will be transitioning into market rates for any load growth on OPALCO’s system. The more members improve the energy efficiency of their homes now and become more aware of their energy usage, the better positioned we will be as a co-op to weather the transition to market rates and also the carbon accountability legislation that is coming.”

OPALCO is a member-owned cooperative electrical utility serving more than 11,000 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 95% greenhouse-gas free and is predominately generated by hydro-electric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937 to bring electricity to rural islanders.

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