KCP&L's promising energy efficiency plan
The Kansas City Star
Sometime in 2013 Kansas City Power & Light will roll out an extensive program that promises to boost energy efficiency and save money for 300,000 area customers.
The contentious part of the plan already has caught the public’s eye: Customers’ rates are going to rise a bit to help pay for something that could cut demand for electricity.
However, this approach makes good sense and deserves to move forward for several reasons.
The status quo at KCP&L would result in even higher rates for those customers.
The utility — without the energy efficiency program — estimates it would have to build a costly power plant in the coming years to serve those 300,000 customers in the future. Most live in southeast Kansas City and the Raytown/Lee’s Summit parts of the metropolitan area.
Customers can save money by using less electricity.
Even with the slightly higher rates, households that buy more efficient appliances, blow in more insulation or take other steps designed to reduce their power consumption could cut their monthly bills.
The steps to improve efficiency and conserve energy make sense for the long run.
For instance, thousands of KCP&L’s customers are going to need new air conditioners in the next few years. The utility’s plan will offer rebates that save a customer from $650 to $850, depending on the efficiency rating of the new system.
Other potential savings include rebates on purchases of energy-efficient lights and for turning in used appliances.
One intriguing part of the utility’s plan is to provide energy reports to homeowners, showing them how much they use, how that compares to people in nearby neighborhoods and, most importantly, what they can do to more efficiently consume electricity. KCP&L knows saving money is a motivator for customers, said spokesman Chuck Caisley. So is “good old-fashioned peer pressure,” he added. The utility hopes people will compete with neighbors in trying to drive down their use of electricity.
KCP&L won’t offer the expanded energy efficiency program in its traditional service area, including most of Kansas City on the Missouri side, where it has plenty of power to supply customers. In Kansas, the utility is still trying to convince regulators and legislators to go along with this new approach.
Still, at least 300,000 customers will get the potential to more efficiently use electricity starting in 2013. It’s a good goal for them — and for KCP&L.