New YVEA program hopes to conserve energy, save members money | CraigDailyPress.com

New YVEA program hopes to conserve energy, save members money

Ben Ingersoll

There’s a reason Yampa Valley Electric Association’s newest program replaces the “s” in its name with a dollar sign.

The new community energy efficiency program, Cen$ible Energy, is targeted toward saving YVEA residential and small business members and customers money in the long run, and it’s doing so in a way that is very unique to energy companies.

Offering rebate-type programs to customers who take the initiative to implement energy-efficient products in their homes and businesses isn’t exactly a new concept nationwide, YVEA President and CEO Diane Johnson said.

But YVEA didn’t want to launch Cen$ible Energy by itself, so it joined forces with the city of Steamboat Springs, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and Yampatika to make sure its newest program wasn’t without outside collaboration. YVEA would like to also partner with Moffat County and businesses in Craig. Johnson will be a keynote speaker at the State of the County event Wednesday night.

Johnson said YVSC’s Sarah Jones and Yampatika’s Sonja Macys began to brainstorm in 2014 about what a "true community program" that would save in-need members money would look like.

"It’s actually very unique," Johnson said. "I don’t know if it exists very many places. What we did is say we’d rather find other partners in the community that would make it a true community project. If people are really interested in saving energy, that will really show itself and we’ll find partners, and we did."

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Cen$ible Energy’s website, CensibleEnergy.org, will launch on April 2 and will outline all the different ways YVEA members and customers can begin to reap the benefits.

The concept calls for customers to take proactive steps toward making their homes or businesses more energy efficient. Members can do such things as replace their inefficient refrigerator with one designed for more energy efficiency, swap out their insulation or replace relic lightbulbs with LED lighting, just to name a few of the energy-saving options. In doing so, they’ll be able to collect rebate checks as a reward.

"The Cen$ible Energy program will help people save money and consume less energy if they wish to participate in it," Macys said in a press release. "It’s hard to argue with that."

Johnson said the Cen$ible Energy program is primarily designed for low-income members who routinely struggle to pay off their monthly YVEA bills.

Community sponsorships have helped make the program a reality, where sponsor levels range from $2,500 to $10,000. The city pitched in $12,000 in funding to help get the program off the ground, and YVEA is set to launch the it publicly in a little more than a week.

Johnson said YVEA is still curious to see how popular the program will become in its inaugural year. With the community partnerships, she’s excited to see how far it will grow with members and customers.

"I’m very proud of the fact that we came together to make this happen without just using the old model of ‘Fine, we’ll spend money and make it happen for you," Johnson said.

Until CensibleEnergy.org goes live on April 2, interested customers can call the YVEA office at 970-879-1160 for more information.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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