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Environment-friendly power ...City Utilities poll asks for green-energy input

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

City Utilities wants to know if its customers are ready to go green.

A survey to assess the interest level in "green power," or power that is generated in a way that better protects the environment, was mailed to about half of CU's customers, said Ann Hall, energy management specialist with the utility.

"Basically, we're looking for people who are interested in energy generated by renewable resources," Hall said.

The survey asks if the customer would be interested in "green power" and whether he or she would pay $5, $10 or $20 more a month to have the service, Hall said.

It also asks if the customer would be interested in have a photovoltaic panel, or solar panel, installed on their home.

"Right now, we're just looking for an interest level. When we get enough of the surveys back, then we'll look at what to do with the information," Hall said.

The survey went to 11 out of CU's 21 billing cycles. The utility could look into purchasing some green power if enough of its customers are interested, but the energy would have to be purchased a megawatt at a time, Hall said.

"That's quite a bit of power, so we first need to make sure there are people wanting to use it, but at this point, we aren't anywhere near that far along," Hall said.

Municipal utilities in California and Colorado are already starting to sell this sort of power, Hall said. CU's motivation to provide this type of power would not be, as in many other utility's cases, a desire to cut rates.

Green power can be lower cost than nonrenewable energy in some parts of the country, but that is not the case here.

"Our rates are already so low here, we aren't really looking at this as a rate-controlling option. This is more about customer needs," Hall said.

Hall said she had already received between 300 and 400 responses and expected all the responses to be in by mid-June.

"We're already past the 1 percent response rate, which is a pretty good sign," Hall said.

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