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Pepco Puts Conservation At Consumers' Fingertips

By Melissa B. Robinson
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Did you ever wonder how much you could save on monthly electric costs if you got rid of one of your color televisions? Or started using that wood stove in the basement?

Pepco has an interactive Web-based tool to help consumers answer those types of questions. The goal is to help people conserve energy while saving money.

Consumers must have computer access to use "Energy Know How Solutions," which was launched by Pepco in August, about two months after a rate increase took effect.

Pepco serves about 750,000 customers in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and the District.

The rate increase meant that average electric bills went up by about $39 a month for Pepco's residential customers in Maryland, and by $8.33 a month for those in the District. Other proposed Pepco rate increases are pending before the Public Service Commissions in Maryland and the District.

If approved, the increases would raise average monthly bills by $5.33 for residential customers in Maryland, and by $5.97 in the District.

The idea behind the new online tool is to show residential and small-business customers exactly where they are using electricity so they can figure out where to cut back.

"We looked at this as being a good place to target those customers who would benefit the most from these energy-saving tips," said Donna Mann, Pepco's consumer advocate.

By using an energy auditing and bill analysis system, the program can show how much electricity is consumed by appliances and other equipment, whether coffeemakers or photocopiers. It can compare a household or business's costs with others in the area and offer possible reasons for month-to-month fluctuations in bills.

Pepco spokeswoman Debbi L. Jarvis said the utilities of Pepco Holdings, the parent company of Pepco, Delmarva Power in Delaware and Atlantic City Electric in New Jersey, are the only ones in the mid-Atlantic region to apply such computer technology to the area of consumer savings and conservation.

She said consumer interest in energy conservation and savings rose after the last rate increase.

"Customers were asking, 'Can you help us?' " she said. "Here's what we can do."

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