Are Xcel’s letters comparing neighbors’ energy usage appropriate?
“‘Neighbors’ involved in Xcel program can be as far as 2 miles from each other,” Dec. 27 news story.
Your article about Xcel Energy sending letters regarding usage comparisons raises many issues. While we all have to learn to be more aware of energy conservation, the letters are intimidating and tell us nothing other than to chastise. Xcel does not disclose the address of the comparison home, nor does Xcel know anything about the occupancy circumstances — how many people live in the home, medical devices, electric vehicle recharge ports, vacation times, and on and on.
Xcel is a for-profit business that would probably go to the Public Utilities Commission and ask for rate hikes if there was a sudden or continuous reduction in usage. So what is the point of their letter?
Several years ago the Denver Water Board plastered the city with billboards and signs showing a human brain, a cow brain, and a supposed grass brain at the cost of millions of dollars. The point was the grass brain was so small it would not know if it received a little less water. It rained every day from April until mid-August, and water consumption dramatically declined. In September, Denver Water went to the PUC for a rate hike request — which we are still paying.
BBB I am one the “most efficient neighbors.” Although someone occasionally edges me out in electrical usage, no one comes even close to my gas (heat and hot water) usage; so month after month I am the most efficient neighbor.
I am very proud of this distinction because I have accomplished this totally through energy-efficiency retrofits without having to use any alternative energy resources.
We read with interest your story about the reports that Xcel Energy sends customers comparing their own energy use to that of similar neighbors. The reports aren’t meant to shame customers who might use more energy than their neighbors, but instead are meant to help consumers consider taking simple efficiency steps: changing to LED light bulbs, turning down their clothes washer’s temperature settings or unplugging phone chargers and the like when not in use.
In 2015, the program motivated Xcel Energy’s customers to save an impressive 29 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. All the energy efficiency programs that Xcel Energy implemented in 2015 combined helped households and businesses save 406 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, reducing electric bills by about $40 million per year. This energy savings means less fossil-fuel burning, cleaner air for all of us, as well as lower bills for consumers and businesses. There’s certainly no shame in any of that.
Boulder The writer is executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. Send letters of 150 words or fewer to firstname.lastname@example.org or 101 W. Colfax Ave., Suite 800, Denver, CO, 80202. Please include full name, city and phone number. Contact us at 303-954-1331.
Xcel regularly sends letters to many of its customers comparing their energy usage to that of their neighbors.