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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Oconomowoc utility and others making renewable energy easy to use

From a story by Matthew Inda in Living Lake Country:

City of Oconomowoc - One thing that makes Oconomowoc unique is its publicly owned utility company, which strives for environmental efficiency and cheaper prices.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, adults and children have an opportunity to visit the Oconomowoc Utilities office, 808 S. Worthington St., for an open house that will educate everyone about the local power plant, as well as give customers a chance to purchase blocks of renewable energy.

“You get to learn about all the different things the utility does, and specifically green power,” said Lisa Geason-Bauer, owner and marketing director of Evolution Marketing, and consultant of the Oconomowoc Utilities open house.

Open house visitors can learn about the utility that they, as customers, partially own, and can help the utility become more efficient.

One of the first steps in doing so is for customers to sign up to purchase blocks of renewable energy, varied amounts of kilowatts per hour, by which customers can essentially increase the amount of green energy used in their home.

For example, if someone purchases one block of energy for the $3 price tag, they will receive and be charged for 300 kilowatts per hour of renewable energy that is likely coming from wind power, according to Greg Hoffmann, energy service representative for Wisconsin Pubic Power Inc., the regional public power company to which Oconomowoc Utilities belongs.

Two blocks of energy, or 600 kilowatts per hour, would be $6, three blocks (900 kilowatts) would be $9, and so on.

So if a household used 900 kilowatts per hour of electricity in one month, but bought three blocks of renewable energy, then their household would be using 100-percent renewable energy. Hoffmann said the price of the renewable energy, whether $3, $6 or incrementally greater, is tacked on to whatever that home’s monthly bill is.

Hoffmann said the concept is one that many public and private power companies are using, whether it is wind-, solar- or hydro-based.

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