<b><i>Policy was established by the Secretary of Defense</i></b>

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - With U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's mock utility billing program slated for a July start-up across Army Hawaii Family Housing communities, a planned series of town hall meetings kicked off Monday evening to provide important information to residents and to answer questions.

Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, USAG-Hawaii, and Claire Ridding-Johnston, project director, AHFH, hosted the meeting at the Sgt. Smith Theater, here.

A second meeting was held the following evening in Richardson Theater, Fort Shafter.

Margotta began the meetings with an overview of the policy established by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The policy holds Soldiers and their families responsible for utilities.

"The purpose of the program is to reduce energy consumption, which also presents us with an excellent opportunity to be good stewards of the communities we live and work in," Margotta said.

Margotta also emphasized that the program is not a profit center for the Army or AHFH, and it is not intended to penalize or take away money from Soldiers.

"On the contrary, the program will benefit Soldiers and families," he said. "Money saved through the program will directly benefit them with more community amenities such as playgrounds, community centers and family programs."

Margotta added that most Soldiers will not experience any out-of-pocket expenses, as the program is designed to financially reward families who conserve.

Following Margotta's overview, Ridding-Johnston shared details about the mock billing program that AHFH will manage for the Army in Hawaii.

"The program will begin in July, and residents will be sent their first energy consumption report on Aug. 1," said Ridding-Johnston, who emphasized the report is not a bill to be paid.

"The purpose of the mock billing program is to help families understand how much electricity they use, provide assistance to those who are high electricity users, and prepare families for actual billing."

At AHFH, residents only will be billed for electricity and actual billing will begin in 2011. A specific date will be determined by the USAG-Hawaii commander.

In accordance with OSD policy, actual billing must begin no more than 12 months after the launch of the mock billing program.

Ridding-Johnston also explained to families how their average household electricity use, referred to as a baseline, is established.

Further, she explained what information will be included on utility consumption reports and available resources.

"AHFH is determined to provide families with information and resources to help them come under their baselines and realize the benefits of the program," she said.

Residents will receive valuable information from programs such as AHFH's Saving Your Nation's Energy, or SYNERGY.

Residents will also have access to information and resources on the AHFH website.

In addition, they will have website access to Ista, the company that manages data collection and energy consumption reports for AHFH.

Community managers, as well as a full-time utilities manager, are also available to assist families.

For more information about mock utility billing, click on "Current Resident's" at <a href="http://www.armyhawaiifamilyhousing.com">www.armyhawaiifamilyhousing.com</a>.

Page last updated Thu April 29th, 2010 at 17:46