President and CEO of the Electric Power Board David Wade at the monthly board meeting said that the municipal utility’s mission is not to see how much electric power can be sold, but instead, to raise the quality of life for customers. The utility does this with several programs that are offered to help customers get more value out of the products that EPB sells.
One of the services provided is Energy Pro, which is an energy audit that performs a thorough analysis of a home’s energy use. The inspection generates a report showing ways to improve energy efficiency and is done free of charge. This report is of value to a homeowner in ways other than reducing energy bills, such as giving information prior to the replacement of any heat or air conditioning systems.
Another example of advice that EPB can provide customers is for saving power used by their electric vehicles. A simple suggestion that keeps costs down is to program the vehicle to charge at midnight rather than plugging it in immediately after work during peak-use hours when the cost of electricity is the highest.
Ways to take advantage of electric energy efficiency and savings for residential use can be accessed in the EPB app. Customer service can help people understand how to use it. Features that are available include seeing energy use in real time as well as historically and showing energy performance. Outages can be reported and maps of area outages can be seen. It also gives the user spike protection that runs all the time. This feature detects any odd occurrence or significant change to the customary usage and will alert the homeowner. This works much like a credit card company when an unusual charge is made. Customers are called up front versus getting a huge bill after something happens.
The Home Uplift Program is also available on a first come first serve basis to qualified, low-income homeowners. This plan retrofits houses which are in the worst energy shape in order to reduce utility bills. It is done in conjunction with partners such as TVA, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Greenspaces, and the Benwood and Lyndhurst Foundations. On average the work done on a house will save $500 per year, said Mr. Wade. These overhauls have been completed on 400 homes and there is money available to do 150 more houses next year.
In addition to lowering energy use, Mr. Wade said many of the homeowners have also reported a positive effect on their health after undergoing this program. This was attributed to replacing and cleaning old ductwork that had been blowing dirty air around the interiors.
The methods that are being used to help customers also benefit TVA, said Mr. Wade. If energy use increases, TVA has to build bigger generators. The savings allow us to have a better plan to create environmentally friendly long-term benefits, he said.
Mr. Wade also discussed EPB’s second micro grid that will be installed at the police, fire and 911 service center on Amnicola Highway. The first was built at the Chattanooga airport. The micro grid will make use of solar panels, storage batteries and gas generators that can produce power for emergency services in the worst situations when the electric grid is not working. This system will also be capable of working in combination with the grid on a daily basis.
The annual election of the EPB board took place at the Friday morning meeting. Vicki Gregg was elected as chair of the board, John Foy will be the new vice chair and Jon Kinsey was chosen to be trustee, who will participate when changes are needed to the pension plans, post retirement plans or 401k plans.