Energy Bonanza slated for Nov. 29

Published 12:29 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Become educated about energy matters, learn about Washington Electric Utilities’ load-management program and possibly win cash at the city-sponsored Energy Bonanza next week.

The inaugural event is set to run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Washington Civic Center. Free energy kits and CFL bulbs will be distributed (as long as supplies last). Those who attend the event will be able to talk with energy auditors with ElectriCities. Pizza and a bounce house (for children) also will be available.

“We are trying to educate our customers on energy usage and load management,” said Anita Radcliffe, who works for the city’s Finance Department and helped organize the event.

The Energy Bonanza is one of several events and programs implemented by the city to educate its power customers about energy-related programs, including energy audits and load management.

City officials have said that load management is an effective way to reduce WEU customers’ electric bills and what the city pays for electricity at the wholesale level.

The city wants WEU customers take advantage of WEU’s load-management program, in which devices are installed on some electric appliances such as electric water heaters, heat pumps/central air conditioners and auxiliary heat sources such as heat strips. Those devices, which are radio-controlled, allow the city to turn off those appliances during times when peak demands are expected. That saves the city and its power customers money. WEU customers in the load-management program receive credits each month on their electric bills.

The appliances are controlled for no more than four hours a day for a few days each month.

During budget talks last year, WEU Director Keith Hardt said having all qualified WEU customers participating in the load-management program would save the city – and its qualified power customers – about $1.3 million a year.

Representatives from the N.C. Energy Office, including an energy engineer who will discuss household energy usage, will participate in the event, Radcliffe said.

Information about energy-related tax credits also will be provided by the State Historic Preservation Office, Radcliffe said, adding that the Martin County Community Action agency will provide information about weatherization.

Information about the proposed wind farm near Pantego also will be available, she said.

Sprout and Blue Sun Renew are scheduled to provide information about the renewable energy kiosk that will be erected near the N.C. Estuarium, Radcliffe said. The kiosk showcases solar panels, a wind turbine and weather station. The data generated from all three components serves an exhibit to educate students and the general public, according to a city document. The integrated information appears on an intuitive dashboard to help connect weather to the renewable energy it can produce. The stand-alone kiosk is powered by its energy systems to go anywhere with minimal infrastructure coordination. The Sprout kiosk connects technology and information seamlessly transforming the process for learning about clean energy. The full-size components are easy to see, and Sprout displays real-time data on its screen and through a web-interface to any location.

The city’s Public Works Department will have a booth at which people may learn about the city’s recycling program. The city’s Customer Service department will offer information on budget billing and payment options, including online payments, Radcliffe said.