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IID programs aimed at helping ratepayers

July 10, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

Though California's energy crisis hasn't caused much of a stir in Imperial County, high power bills from keeping homes cool during hot summer months may be enough to have many electricity customers declaring a state of emergency.

The Imperial Irrigation District offers several rebate and discount programs to help residential and commercial customers reduce energy consumption and cut their energy bills.

The bulk of these programs' funding comes from the 2.85 percent public benefit charge on each customer's monthly bill. The state-mandated public benefit program has funded $5 million worth of programs this year for the IID.

Many of IID's programs aim to increase the efficiency of major appliances. The air conditioner and heat pump rebate program offers residential and commercial customers rebates when they purchase Energy Star air conditioners and heat pumps.

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Customers can receive rebates of $50 per ton on air conditioners and $80 per ton on heat pumps. Purchasing a five-ton Energy Star heat pump, for example, can bring a customer a $400 rebate from the IID.

Energy Star appliances work at efficiency levels higher than federal standards, saving energy and money for users.

"It's good for both the customer and the (power) system," said Sue Giller, IID spokeswoman.

Customers save on their electricity bills and the lower demand on the system makes it less expensive for IID and other utilities to buy power, Giller said.

IID also offers a refrigerator rebate and recycling program. Residential customers purchasing Energy Star refrigerators can recycle their old operational refrigerator and receive a 20-percent rebate up to $200 from the IID.

Additionally, any customer that would like to get rid of an operational refrigerator can have it picked up and receive a $40 check. Customers can call 1-800-922-3744 for applications and information about the refrigerator rebates and recycling.

IID will give residential customers a $100 rebate when they install an evaporative cooler in the major living space in their homes.

Evaporative coolers can save a person 70-80 percent of their cooling costs, said Phil Falkenstein, energy and marketing specialist leader for the IID.

While people will want to use their air conditioners during summer's hottest and most humid time from late June into early September, evaporative coolers can effectively and cheaply cool a home in late spring and early fall, Falkenstein said.

Another energy conserving program is IID's Super A/C Tune-up. Under the program, residential customers receive a $25 discount from the cost of a central air conditioner unit tune-up when done by a participating service person.

Servicing an air conditioner regularly keeps it working efficiently and prevents future mechanical problems, Falkenstein said.

An air conditioner that goes without service for two years uses up to 30 percent more energy than one that is regularly serviced, Falkenstein said.

This program, which is pushed during the off-peak winter and early spring months, has already provided discounts for over 5,000 tune-ups. It has funding for about 4,000 more tune-up discounts and will continue through the end of the year when it will be re-evaluated.

What's more, recent state legislation has provided the IID with $1.56 million which IID is using to double and triple rebates and incentives on many of their programs.

Air conditioner and heat pump replacement, evaporative cooler rebates and refrigerator recycling incentives have all been tripled.

A commercial lighting retrofit program now offers double rebates. Businesses may contact the IID Energy and Marketing Services section for details.

Funding for these increased rebates is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis.

Just because Imperial Valley isn't experiencing black-outs doesn't mean power customers should be carefree when using electricity, IID officials have said.

"People can help themselves by using power more efficiently despite the fact we don't have a crisis," Giller said.

For more information about these and other IID programs, call IID Energy and Marketing Services at 339-9032.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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