Seller of electricity wants you to use less

OTTUMWA — Saving energy benefits those who pay for it. Yet those who sell electricity want you to use less, too.

Alliant Energy and the Ottumwa “Hometown Rewards Steering Committee” are partnering to bring Hometown Rewards to Ottumwa.

City Administrator Andy Morris believes Ottumwa may be the last test site for the program, which gives money to communities that can reduce their usage. Before the administrator talked to the Courier, Alliant had sent out a press release with a basic explanation.

“Hometown Rewards is a two-year program that helps residents save energy, save money … We will help fund an energy-efficient project for the community, if the city reaches its goal of reducing energy usage by 4 percent.”

Morris thinks it can be done, especially because if the community can’t cut 4 percent, there’s still some cash available for those towns that reduce usage by 1, 2 or 3 percent.

“Our customers make the biggest impact on their costs when they focus on energy efficiency and conservation,” says Anne Carter, Alliant Energy’s director of energy efficiency. “Hometown Rewards can help them turn those savings at home into something that helps the entire community.”

So does Morris know why a company that sells electricity wants to sell less of it? Morris said from a business standpoint, it makes sense for customers to spend less money — and utility companies may get tax credits to help make it worth their while.

The other reason has to do with the incredible cost of building another power plant. Once usage passes a certain percentage, the utility company must construct a new plant.

Morris isn’t certain what kind of project Ottumwa would want to accept as their reward. But the projects intended to help reach the goal focus on solar panels. Engineers are soon to be climbing around Bridge View Center.

There’s a lot of room on that roof, Morris acknowledges before adding that he himself would have no idea how much weight the roof could take. The mayor and the council will have to approve plans.

As for the reward, it has to be something benefitting energy reduction efforts. Maybe there’s a way to pay for the huge solar panels using the money won by putting them in.

“The Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress (GOPIP) is very excited to be a part of this initiative with Alliant Energy. The next two years will be very educational and exciting for all of us to see the changes and impact we can make,” said Stacie Manary, local Hometown Rewards Coordinator.

For more information, visit alliantenergy.com/ottumwa. Courier reporter Mark Newman can be contacted at MNewman@ottumwacourier.com.

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