Duke Energy Carolinas has agreed with consumer and energy advocates on a new suite of energy-efficiency programs for consumers and a new way of paying for them.
Under terms of a settlement signed Monday, Duke would replace an energy-efficiency program called save-a-watt. The settlement still has to be approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission, which held a hearing on the proposal Tuesday morning.
Many elements of save-a-watt, such as appliance recycling and home energy assessments, will continue. New parts will be added, such as efficiency programs aimed at multifamily housing and commercial offerings that target specific business equipment.
The new offerings will be available in January if the commission approves.
“The new portfolio updates many of the old programs and makes others more transparent to increase participation,” said Duke spokesman Jeff Brooks.
Save-a-watt was innovative in letting Duke earn a return on its energy-saving investments, much as it does its power plants. It has run in its current form since 2009 and ends in December.
Over those four years, Duke says, the energy saved under the program will equal the use of more than 320,000 average residential customers. But Brooks said the way in which Duke was allowed to recover program costs from customers was overly complex.
Under the old program, Duke recovers its costs through a percentage of the money saved by not generating electricity, due to energy efficiency, plus lost revenues.
The new plan takes a more traditional approach and is similar to recovery methods used by Dominion North Carolina Power and Duke Energy Progress.
It lets Duke directly cover its program costs, through riders attached to rates, and lost revenues. A new twist is incentive payments for good performance, equal to 11.5 percent of the energy savings achieved. Duke can earn bonus payments for extraordinary savings.
The settlement agreement filed Monday is among Duke, the commission’s Public Staff, the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Henderson: 704-358-5051; Twitter: @bhender
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