Electric cooperatives across Iowa have established a robust set of cost-effective, energy efficiency programs to help their member-owners use energy wisely. To ensure that those programs remain a value to the consumers, the utility, and the environment, they must be evaluated regularly.
The program offerings and energy efficiency goals of Iowa cooperatives are tailored to the local energy needs of each electric cooperative’s member-owners. The electric markets served by the Iowa rural electric cooperatives differ from co-op to co-op and are different from markets served by other electric utilities, such as investor-owned utilities. It is important to continue to evaluate rebate programs on a regular basis to ensure that they remain a good value, meet consumer demand, and do not cost so much to administer that non-participating rate-payers are subsidizing the energy efficiency measures.
NIPCO's First Energy Efficiency Plan
NIPCO’s first energy efficiency plan, implemented in 2009 included the distribution of energy efficiency kits and compact fluorescent light bulbs by NIPCO’s member systems to their members. Other programs encouraged adding insulation and other energy-saving measures. In the years to follow, more programs were added as consumer behavior shifted, appliances became more efficient, and new technologies emerged.
In 2014, NIPCO partnered and cost-shared a new energy efficiency study with neighboring generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives Corn Belt Power and L&O Power Cooperative. Five years later, in June of 2019, it was determined to re-evaluate the programs, again. The joint energy efficiency studies are commissioned to define and refine existing energy efficiency goals and programs and to identify any new programs that should be considered. The decision to participate in the studies, jointly, is supported by the fact that all three G&Ts share the same primary power supplier (Basin Electric Power Cooperative) and serve member-consumers with very similar energy needs.
C.H. Guernsey, an Oklahoma City engineering consulting firm, was hired to perform the study in 2014 and 2019.
Each energy efficiency measure is subjected to a series of tests to quantify its value. While many of NIPCO’s energy efficiency programs will remain the same or undergo minor adjustments, the primary change to the energy efficiency programs to be offered in 2020 will include rebates for the purchase and installation of Level 2 chargers for electric vehicles (EVs).
The new EV charger rebate program allows member-owners in the NIPCO system to recoup 50% of costs associated with the purchase and installation of a new Level 2/Level 3 charger, up to $750, for as many as two chargers in their home. For Commercial/Industrial/Agricultural applications, a rebate for 50% of purchase and installation costs, up to $1,200, will be offered for as many as five Level 2/Level 3 chargers. A Time of Use (TOU) Rate will be developed by each NIPCO member to capture the demand of these EV chargers when charging during peak times. To avoid chargers being activated during times of peak demand, member-consumers will have the option to connect it to a load control switch to prevent them from charging during peak times. Regardless of the option taken, each EV charger will require a meter either supplied within the charger or by the co-op. Whether consumers prefer to use a TOU rate or a load control switch will be left up to each individual co-op to enforce or manage.
Since 2006, Iowa’s electric co-ops have invested more than $120 million in energy efficiency measures, avoiding at least 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of usage. That’s enough to power more than 600,000 homes for a full year. Closer to home, member-consumers in the NIPCO system took advantage of energy efficiency programs, avoiding more than 653-thousand kWh of usage, which is enough to power nearly 60 homes, in 2018 alone!