Conservation efforts save customers millions, PUD says

EVERETT — Next time you’re in that mom-and-pop coffee shop down the street, you might want to thank the owners.

They could be responsible for keeping your power bill in check.

Snohomish County PUD announced Tuesday that its ratepayers saved $5.8 million through energy conservation in 2009. Some of the biggest energy savers were private businesses.

Nearly 700 around the county participated in conservation programs last year, saving enough energy to power 6,000 homes, said Mary Smith, a senior manager for the PUD’s energy efficiency program.

“We offer incentives for every business size — from the corner mom-and-pop store up to Boeing,” Smith said.

And all kinds of companies took advantage of those programs: flower shops, groceries, hardware stores, industrial manufacturers, motels and fast-food joints.

The utility has been helping businesses by offering advice from engineers for making buildings more efficient and rebates for swapping out equipment and fixtures.

Some of the fixes include helping industrial operations find more efficient air compressors or swapping out an antiquated heating and cooling system for one that sucks less energy. PUD workers also made a push to encourage grocers to replace their refrigeration systems with better models, she said.

Conservation programs for residential customers, such as rebates for weatherizing homes, also contributed to the savings, she said. The PUD, for instance, offers up to $800 for homeowners who want to try ductless heat pumps, a new technology that heats homes far more efficiently than baseboard or similar systems.

Why the push for conservation?

The PUD purchases nearly 90 percent of its power from Bonneville Power Administration, a government agency that markets and sells electricity from federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The utility is taking about as much as it can from hydropower and needs to find a way to meet the population growth in the county, which is expected to expand by one-fifth in the next decade, PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.

The PUD is exploring alternative energy sources, but those are more costly. Simply stretching what energy it has further is more cost-effective, he said. The utility has budgeted $21 million for its conservation program this year.

The PUD serves 30,000 commercial and industrial businesses and 290,000 residential customers in Snohomish County and on Camano Island.

Learn more

For more information about the Snohomish County PUD’s energy conservation programs, go to or call 425-783-1700.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197,

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