How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? In The Dalles, Oregon, it took everyone.
After Northern Wasco County PUD (NWCPUD) and Efficiency Services Group (ESG) teamed up to switch out lightbulbs and encourage other efficient changes, the community saved 291,561 kilowatt-hours (kWh). That’s enough energy to power 24 homes for a year!
NWCPUD wanted to help residential consumers in hard-to-reach areas switch to energy-efficient lighting. The utility also knew further efficiency measures were needed, especially in Celilo Village, Dufur, Tygh Valley, and Wamic.
Starting in 2019, NWCPUD Energy Management Program Manager Travis Hardy teamed up with ESG’s Director of Operations and Customer Engagement Miranda Boutelle and Manager of Direct Install Services David Barnhart to encourage energy efficiency measures in four targeted communities.
Delivering consumer care kits was a critical part of the program’s success. For example, ESG spent a full day in the Celilo Village community, upgrading or supplying every home with LED lightbulbs, water-saving showerheads, and a smart power strip.
“It was one upbeat, powerful day of connection and support,” Travis says. “All Celilo Village residents were enthusiastic. Many homeowners opted into the direct install program, which allows us to install all replacements. This single day of service and outreach should provide an estimated savings of 15,560 kilowatt-hours per year for this community.”
After seeing the success of ESG’s distribution system, NWCPUD expanded the program to multifamily tenants and single-family residences in The Dalles. The utility offered several ways for consumers to learn about and sign up for the program, including:
- Ads in Ruralite magazine
- Return postcard
- Phone call
- Email request
NWCPUD invested $116,694 of its Bonneville Power Administration energy efficiency investment credits in energy saver kits, distribution, and direct install efforts. The program saved PUD consumers 291,561 kWh (and counting).
ESG’s Customer Care Kits are part of NWCPUD’s Energy-Efficiency Upgrade Program. The utility also helped consumers invest in ductless heat pumps, window and door replacements, and heat pump water heaters. An investment of almost half a million in BPA efficiency credits saved 285,839 kWh.
Efficient lightbulbs, high-performance showerheads, and smart power strips generated 4 times the kWh savings per dollar spent compared to NWCPUD’s other efficiency efforts.
The program delivered more than savings. Relationships across the utility’s service area strengthened, too.
“While lower monthly bills and an increased energy-efficiency consciousness are powerful customer benefits in their own right, these valuable programs also inspired residents to be more hands-on with home maintenance and more communicative about utility bill concerns,” Travis says.
Consumers mailed thank you notes and praised the utility on social media for the support.
“An amazing thing happened yesterday: The PUD, in cooperation with the Bonneville Power Administration, delivered a box of lightbulbs, a showerhead and a water faucet head, and a power strip to homes in Pomona Meadows, as gifts. The box stated, ‘We might be apart but we can get through this together.’ Such an absolute surprise,” one consumer wrote.
“It is enormously pleasing to receive your gift box with the efficient new energy lightbulbs and power strip and shower and faucet water-saving devices,” another consumer shared. “We are getting through this together. Your noticing and remembering us is a long-lasting, unforgettable compliment.”
ESG continues to help NWCPUD deliver energy efficiency measures to all remaining residents.
“This empowered connection between NWCPUD and its customers allows for a quicker response to abnormalities in use and fosters a sense of mutual understanding when it comes to serving Northern Wasco County with compassion and integrity,” Travis says.
After teaming up with ESG, NWCPUD noticed several benefits:
- The program required minimal PUD administrative hours since ESG physically distributes energy saver kits and mails starter kits directly to NWCPUD customers.
- There were no BPA billing issues; ESG provides pre-completed and accurate spreadsheets and invoices for monthly submission to PUD Finance and BPA.
- No physical contact between utility staff and consumers means the program delivered COVID-safe kWh savings.
- The program provided a positive public relations boost and improved utility staff morale during the pandemic.
“We appreciated Miranda and Dave’s open communication, flexibility, and willingness to work within our budget to achieve maximum fulfillment and savings,” Travis says.