T&D World Magazine

Electric Co-op Program Honors Apogee HomeEnergySuite

Apogee Interactive Inc.'s HomeEnergySuite has received national honors for Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative.

Based in Portola, California, Plumas-Sierra REC introduced the HomeEnergySuite to its members in February 2006. The HomeEnergySuite is a package of Internet applications and energy content that includes the Apogee HomeEnergyCalculator, Kids Korner, Fundamentals of Electricity content, energy tips, HomeEnergyLibrary, lighting calculator and home appliance calculator.

The Spotlight on Excellence Awards Program of the Council of Rural Electric Communicators honored Plumas-Sierra REC for Best Application of Electronic Communication in May at Connect 2007, a national conference in Miami, Florida, held jointly by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.

“We had this really effective tool and wanted to show it off,” said Jessica Nelson, energy services manager for Plumas-Sierra REC. “The Spotlight on Excellence Award validates our pursuit of this Web-based suite and shows our members that we’re trying to help them not only to conserve energy but to understand their energy use and better manage their electric bills.”

More than 190 utilities across the United States use HomeEnergySuite, according to Tom DuBos, Apogee business development manager. “It’s been around for about six years and evolves over time to better serve our customers,” he said. “We’ll keep improving our applications to keep our customers on the cutting edge of what is possible.”

Plumas-Sierra REC invested in HomeEnergySuite primarily to promote its ground-source heat pump program. “This tool enables the co-op to estimate program economics for their members, helping them easily predict what the savings would be if the switch is made to this more efficient technology,” said DuBos. “It serves as a marketing tool for the cooperative to advance its program while teaching its members about energy efficiency.”

Nelson said the versatile APOGEE program has been a welcome addition to the Plumas-Sierra Website,(www.psrec.coop). “It shows members the value of the ground-source heat pump program, which is a strong program at our cooperative, where we offer zero percent loans towards purchase of a geothermal heat pump,” said Nelson. “It’s often hard to sell something with a high upfront cost, but if you can show consumers the savings they’ll see on their electric bill, it makes it easier to sell—and that’s where Apogee's HomeEnergySuite comes in.”

Other components of the suite have been helpful as well, according to Nelson. “It’s definitely taken a load off the employees who are able to refer members to the HomeEnergyCalculator and other tools rather than going to homes to do physical energy audits,” she said. “This allows members to troubleshoot on their own and saves the co-op time and money.”

“The Spotlight on Excellence Award confirms our belief in the HomeEnergySuite as a great customer communications tool,” said DuBos. “Regardless of your specific objective, this is a way to engage your customers, promote energy efficiency programs, and give consumers a valuable tool.”

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