PICKENS — For the past month, plans have been in the works to bring Duke Energy’s “Residential Neighborhood” and “Smart Saver” energy programs to the city of Pickens.
At last week’s Pickens City Council meeting, Duke Energy Program Manager Sue Dinnsen was pleased to announce that the programs were moving forward.
“The main focus is, we’re looking for some low-income areas where they (residents) need the most help,” said Dinnsen. “They’re going to get things like a free in-home energy assessment where we walk through their homes and determine where their needs are, they get free energy conservation measures … and they’re also going to get an education — tips and things on how to save energy.”
According to Dinnsen, the walk through energy assessment will evaluate a home’s energy efficiency by using building science principles.
Afterwards, based on the results of the assessment, homeowners may also be offered free energy efficiency upgrades including compact fluorescent light bulbs, low flow aerators and shower heads, weatherstripping and room thermometers.
“These areas in Pickens, we call them ‘neighborhoods,’ are segments of Duke Energy customers where at least 50 percent of the residents are at or below that 200 percent of poverty level,” she said. “So, for a family of four their income would have to be below $48,500. These are families that really need the help.”
Dinnsen stated that once an area has been established as eligible, every house in that designated neighborhood will be qualified for the program — regardless of income — and that the program can benefit renters and homeowners alike.
“This program began in 2013,” said Dinnsen. “In that time we have served, between North and South Carolina, 14,000 homes. We’ve chosen Pickens as the next place to come.”
The Residential Neighborhood and Smart Saver programs have already been put in place in areas of Liberty.
“In order to make a program like this work it takes a lot of up-front effort,” said Dinnsen. “It’s important to get the community leaders involved to help get the word out. We know how difficult it can be for people to let strangers into their homes to do this work. Our crews will be going door to door knocking and we know that can make some people uncomfortable.”
Dinnsen stated that crews would be in uniform with Duke Energy badges and driving marked vans and that the Pickens Police Department has also been involved with helping to get the word out.
In prior cases, the energy company had about 50 percent participation levels from residents.
“This is a great program,” said Dinnsen. “We’re hoping we get a lot of participation.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.