Several public and private officials will be on-hand this morning to celebrate a public-private partnership that's made more than 500 Traverse City homes more energy efficient. “The Power of Energy Efficiency," authored by the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI), will be unveiled during a morning ceremony at Northwestern Michigan College’s Aero Park Lab.
Featured speakers at the event include State Rep. Wayne Schmidt, Traverse City Light & Power Executive Director Tim Arends, and other local leaders.
In 2010, Traverse City Light & Power, MLUI, SEEDS, the Department of Energy, Michigan Saves, and local contractors launched TCSaves—a program to help residents save energy and money. MLUI says TCSaves has improved the energy efficiency of 550 homes in Traverse City since then.
Those 550 homeowners spent $100 each for home energy assessments, programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs and more. Fifty-eight of those participants took out out a total of $617,000 in low- or no-interest loans to “deep retrofit” their homes with things like high-efficiency furnaces and extensive re-insulation.
“The primary takeaway (from the report) is that energy efficiency makes homeowners, business people, contractors, a lot of people, happy,” says MLUI Senior Editor Jim Dulzo, author of the report. “TCSaves has been an extraordinary success as a pilot program.”
Officials will announce today that TC Saves will be expanded this fall and will be available to all customers Traverse City Light & Power serves.
MLUI’s report introduces the people who are making the TC region “efficiency ready,” profiling homeowners, business owners, contractors, and experts with first-hand knowledge of the impact energy efficiency can have on the local economy.
One part of the report is the story of TC homeowners Paul and Jennise Phillips, who were looking to lower the stubbornly high cost of heating their drafty home. Even after caulking windows and dialing down the thermostat to 65 degrees, their heating bill typically ran $162-$191 each January. After enrolling in TCSaves and making several recommended improvements including a new energy-efficient furnace, the Phillips family was able to lower their January 2013 heat bill to $68.
Business success stories are celebrated as well, including that of Keen Technical Solutions, a Traverse City-based company that specializes in energy conservation consulting for businesses.
The conclusion of the report is that TC Saves has been a public-private victory, and one that could eventually make Traverse City a model for cities nationwide.
“Energy efficiency is a real bargain,” says MLUI Executive Director Hans Voss. “It’s cheaper than building a new power plant, and projects pay for themselves, create jobs, and strengthen the local economy.”
The report will be sent to all MLUI members and to all public officials in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Wexford counties.
“We want a lot of people to know about this,” says Dulzo.