Truckee utility district aims to lower bills for low income homes | SierraSun.com

Truckee utility district aims to lower bills for low income homes

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Sun File PhotoLED lights are designed to save on electricity costs, officials have said.
ALL |

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Truckeeand#8217;s utility district has come up with a way to help struggling households with their power and water bills and#8212; not by reducing rates, but by reducing usage.

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District, partnering with the Family Resource Center of Truckee and Nevada County, has rolled out the Energy Savings Program, effective immediately, that aims to help low income homes reduce their electricity usage and#8212; and thus, the bill that comes with it.

and#8220;This will give immediate rate relief and cut money from their bills from then on,and#8221; said Michael Holley, general manager for the district.

The program, available for low-income households, those that can document a recent 25 percent or greater loss of income and other qualified residents, offers a one month voucher for up to $200 if the person or household will participate in a residential energy survey, said Steven Poncelet, public information and conservation manager for the district.

and#8220;The surveyor goes to your house, does a survey of the energy and water usage and then gives you the measures you need to reduce that, with things like new light bulbs, low-flow shower heads and weather stripping, that can take money off their bill each month,and#8221; Poncelet said.

This not only helps individual users, but it also lowers the overall load on the district, Poncelet said, which means potentially cheaper energy contracts for the district for the future.

and#8220;Not only do we get information out, but itand#8217;s green, it helps clients in need. Itand#8217;s a long-term solution,and#8221; said Adela Gonzalez Del Valle, executive director for the Family Resource Center.

She said the center already had some bill relief ability for utility district and Southwest Gas bills, but this extends to help households in need.

The program is funded by about $70,000 of the districtand#8217;s public benefit set-aside fund, which should take care of about 200 homes this winter, Poncelet said, after which the district will re-evaluate the program and decide if it will continue next year.

and#8220;In working on this program, we realized we didnand#8217;t have a good list of contacts for community resources,and#8221; Holley said. and#8220;We came to the family resource center and were very impressed with them.and#8221;

In fact Holley was so impressed he joined the centerand#8217;s board.

The utility district, Nevada County and Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation and Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee put together and#8220;A helping handand#8221; pamphlet, he said.

The pamphlet, available at the Family Resource Center and elsewhere around town, is in both English and Spanish, providing contacts and resources from child care to food assistance.

and#8220;We canand#8217;t do everything here, so this is a good tool for us; everything there in one page,and#8221; Gonzalez Del Valle said.