Duke save-a-watt plan designed to get results

From Keith Trent, Duke Energy's chief strategy, policy and regulatory officer:

We appreciate Observer community columnist Lisa Zerkle's interest in energy efficiency in her July 23 column.

Unfortunately, she misrepresented Duke Energy's proposed save-a-watt energy efficiency plan and the company's commitment to energy efficiency.

Starting now and continuing over the next two decades, Duke Energy plans to make a profound shift in the way it meets its customers' electricity needs.

Our vision is to meet nearly one-fourth of our customers' electricity demand by 2030 in two new ways: energy efficiency (12 percent) and renewable energy such as solar and wind power (10 percent).

New and ever-increasing uses for electricity, coupled with a rapidly expanding customer base, raise one vital question for Duke Energy: How do we best meet – or reduce – our customers' dramatically accelerating need for electricity?

While renewable energy is essential, our company's energy efficiency proposal represents a cheaper way to meet customers' escalating demand. If executed effectively it can yield tremendous results.

Duke Energy's save-a-watt plan was designed with that in mind. It only compensates the company for actual reductions in electricity use – as verified by a third party – and at a lower rate than if the company had built a power plant to meet demand.

Duke Energy assumes the risk. If the company does not deliver results and reduce customers' electricity demand, the company does not get paid.

In its first four years (2008-2012), we expect save-a-watt will eliminate the need to build two large natural gas power plants.

The plan also is good for our customers' pocketbooks. The average customer's bill would increase about 98 cents a month in the initiative's first year.

But customers who chose to take advantage of save-a-watt's many energy-saving programs would significantly lower their monthly bills, not only recouping the 98 cents, but much more.

We at Duke Energy are eager to implement our save-a-watt energy efficiency plan in North Carolina – and be held fully accountable for its results.