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Energy efficiency is here to stay!

image credit: Photo 146610605 © Elnur - Dreamstime

This item is part of the Energy Efficiency - Special Issue - 10/2019, click here for more

Cleco established an internal energy efficiency department in 2018. With this, Cleco’s Energy Efficiency department was tasked with the overall operation of four energy efficiency programs in-house. Previously, the energy efficiency programs were overseen by third party implementers. The newly-structured department resulted in lower program administration and implementation costs and 30 percent higher customer incentives compared to previous years. The energy efficiency team was recruited and in place by May, 7 2018. Though the Program Year 4 (“PY4”) duration was 12 months from January, 1 2018 through December 31, 2018, PY4 was only operational from May 07, 2018, through December 31st.  In this same year, Cleco achieved 18,489,810 kWh in energy savings and 4,030.69 kW in realized demand savings through the four programs implemented. Finally, the Cleco energy efficiency program was branded as Cleco Power Wise in 2018.

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Louisiana is number forty-eight when it comes to energy efficiency. This was a major hurdle in getting Cleco’s rural communities involved in energy efficiency initiatives.  Cleco Power Wise used multiple platforms to get the community involved including customer service office visits, tradeshow events, open presentations, bill inserts, digital advertising and radio promotion.  The team found that in those rural areas, the most effective platform was customer service office visits.  This gave the team the opportunity to speak to their customers directly and encourage them to not only participate, but to also spread the word to family and friends.

In Program Year 5 (“PY5”) the program expanded its residential offerings. With the residential weatherization program, customers can sign up for an in-home weatherization audit that includes an assessment of the home. If they qualify, this assessment may include duct sealing, air sealing, and insulation measures, as well as installation of LED bulbs and possibly low-flow water measures.  This weatherization program also includes the multi-family market, where we have excelled in providing weatherization to low-income and elderly customers’ homes.

Additionally, Cleco Power Wise also offers direct rebates where a customer can receive an incentive check for the purchase of energy efficient appliances such as air conditioners, water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, room air conditioners, smart thermostats and pool pumps.  We also launched a website called Cleco Marketplace where customers can purchase energy efficient items at already discounted rates.                         

In order to target more rural communities, Cleco Power Wise implemented a retail lighting program that stocked Dollar General stores in Cleco service territories with lighting displays containing packs of two 60 watt LED bulbs for $1.00.  Going along with Cleco’s vision of “Connecting Louisiana’s Future,” they also started an Early Education program.  This program gives 6th grade teachers in Cleco territory the opportunity to sign up to receive a complete energy efficiency curriculum including teaching materials, posters and a DVD.  The teacher also receives an energy efficiency kit for every student in their classroom to bring home. The kit contains energy efficient items (LED bulbs, a power strip, low-flow water measures, etc.) and activities for the student to complete with their parent.  If the teacher receives 80% participation from the class, the teacher receives a $50 gift card to use towards their classroom. 

Cleco Power Wise also provides small and large commercial lighting retrofit incentives.  Since bringing the program in-house in May of 2018, the program has been able to assist in LED lighting retrofits for 34 schools and school board premises, 12 governmental premises, and 161 other small and large commercial premises for an achieved realized savings of 21,095,154.00 kWh in energy savings and 2,587.46 kW in realized demand savings.

Cleco has only just begun to see the benefit of a utility participating in energy efficiency programs through customer satisfaction levels.  The company has recently undergone a program change in all areas of customer service and distribution, causing a drop in customer satisfaction levels.  Remarkably, the energy efficiency initiative has helped regain customer confidence in Cleco. We value our communities, and it is understood company-wide that giving back to them is essential in growing our business. Energy efficient customers equal happy customers. Happy customers equal successful utility.

Jaci Sewell's picture

Thank Jaci for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 29, 2019 12:00 pm GMT

In order to target more rural communities, Cleco Power Wise implemented a retail lighting program that stocked Dollar General stores in Cleco service territories with lighting displays containing packs of two 60 watt LED bulbs for $1.00.  Going along with Cleco’s vision of “Connecting Louisiana’s Future,” they also started an Early Education program.  This program gives 6th grade teachers in Cleco territory the opportunity to sign up to receive a complete energy efficiency curriculum including teaching materials, posters and a DVD.  The teacher also receives an energy efficiency kit for every student in their classroom to bring home. The kit contains energy efficient items (LED bulbs, a power strip, low-flow water measures, etc.) and activities for the student to complete with their parent.  If the teacher receives 80% participation from the class, the teacher receives a $50 gift card to use towards their classroom. 

These sound like great initiatives worthy of praise, but I'm wondering about education for the customers in the area, not just for students. Providing the lighting displays in the typically used stores is one thing, but do they come with any educational materials or particular outreach to encourage potential buyers to check them out? 

Jaci Sewell's picture
Jaci Sewell on Oct 30, 2019 2:04 pm GMT

"Cleco Power Wise used multiple platforms to get the community involved including customer service office visits, tradeshow events, open presentations, bill inserts, digital advertising and radio promotion.  The team found that in those rural areas, the most effective platform was customer service office visits.  This gave the team the opportunity to speak to their customers directly and encourage them to not only participate, but to also spread the word to family and friends."

Thank you for your comments Matt.  We have multiple platforms to involve and educate customers on energy efficiency as stated above.  The retail lighting program is specifically designed for the customers that are typically not receptive to new information in our rural areas.  The issue is that some people truly do not want to learn or adjust their energy usage to be more efficient and prefer to stay in the older mindset.  This program gets them to participate without even realizing they are.  Now that being said, we do still label our displays to include our logo and information in hopes that they will be more receptive but typically they are just purchasing due to the rebated price instead of the technology and efficiency advantages of the product.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 30, 2019 5:15 pm GMT

This program gets them to participate without even realizing they are.

Leading the horse to water, and maybe even tricking it to drink-- I like this approach! Thanks, Jaci

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