By Chris Rasmussen, Fort Jackson LeaderNovember 4, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Go green and get a little green. That is the incentive for a new energy-conservation program in family housing.
Those who go under the baseline average would get a refund. However, those who go over the baseline would have to pay.
Residents who live in new homes on post will receive a mock electric bill starting with the November billing cycle that is based on the average usage of similar homes. They can use these mock bills to figure out if they need to focus on energy conservation in their homes, before they are actually required to pay any money.
Residents should receive the first mock bill Dec. 1. The program will run through June and beginning in July, only then will those residents who go over the baseline average receive an actual bill.
"We are trying to get residents to conserve and go green," said Tracey Lohman, Balfour Beatty community manager.
"If the baseline is $200 and your bill was $150, you would get a $50 refund," Lohman explained. "However, if the baseline is $200 and your bill is $240, you would owe $40."
The baseline has not yet been set, however. The program, which is a DoD initiative, would group similar floor plans together for the baseline. Readings will be taken through meters installed on 208 new homes in family housing.
"Residents will definitely see a monetary advantage if they conserve and use energy wisely," said James Harper, Balfour Beatty project director. "With the energy-saving tips we are providing, residents should be able to stay under the baseline."
Vacant homes, zero-usage homes as well as the top and bottom 10 percent of usage would be removed from the average.
"We wouldn't take a small house in junior enlisted (area) and compare it to an officer's home," Lohman said. "We are going to group houses that are alike."
Each month a new baseline would be created, and there will be a buffer zone where residents can go over slightly, 5 to 10 percent. However, the buffer zone is still being worked out, Lohman said.
"Residents can go online to view where they stand on the baseline and that allows them to make changes on their usage if they are over the baseline for that month," Lohman said.
The new billing program, which is being administered by Minol, a third party billing company contracted to provide the services, will be introduced to new family housing neighborhoods as they are completed. Family housing is in the process of being renovated and reconstructed.
Savings in energy costs from the program will go back to the residents through improved housing and community facilities.
The program is a direct result of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which holds Soldiers and their families responsible for their utilities. The policy is intended to increase awareness of energy usage, promote conservation and lead to reduced energy consumption.
Col. James Love, garrison commander, said during Tuesday evening's town hall meeting that the mock bills would be sent out for several months so that usage from the peak summer months can be captured.
"I'm encouraged by this. Other installations have reduced their energy consumption substantially by this ... ," Love said. "In most cases, two-thirds of the residents end up either getting a rebate or don't have to pay anything at all. And one-third (of the residents) pay a nominal fee for their electricity, which is in their BAH anyway."
ENERGY SAVING TIPS
A-A A+- Turn off unnecessary lights, appliances and equipment when you leave the room.
A-A A+- Keep doors and windows closed.
A-A A+- Use the washer and dryer only when you have a full load.
A-A A+- Don't leave water running when brushing your teeth or shaving.
A-A A+- Use cold water for washing, whenever possible.
A-A A+- Turn off all outside lights during the day.
A-A A+- Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.
A-A A+- Recycle paper, glass and aluminum.