The other Sierra Pacific
The company we love to hate offers us more than electricity
Sierra Pacific Power Company has all the power in the supply/demand relationship with consumers. We’re accustomed to flipping on the lights, cooking a meal and keeping warm. They’re accustomed to receiving payment. But most people want to pay less. Where do we find information to conserve energy and save utility payments? Paradoxically, SPPC is a good source, offering several programs to help consumers do just that.
John Hargrove is program manager for conservation and energy efficiency. He’s tall with plenty of white hair, wearing a blue and white flowered polo shirt.
“I get paid to help people use less of our product,” he says with a grin.
It doesn’t take a lot of heavy lifting to pick up a check. If you have an old refrigerator or freezer, SPPC will haul it away, recycle it and pay you $30. These appliances are sent to a plant in Las Vegas where 95 percent of the materials are recycled, reducing bulk and hazardous materials in landfills.
A refrigerator older than 10 years can use three times more energy than newer models, costing as much as $200 a year to run. In April, SPPC launched a rebate program for customers buying new refrigerators or washing machines that exhibit the “Energy Star” label.
Hargrove says rebates are “in the works” for high-efficiency natural gas furnaces and air conditioners. SPPC customers can receive two rebates when replacing an entire system. Just cleaning the filters and removing debris from the fan area of most heating and/or cooling systems conserves energy.
No cost, low cost and added cost tips are abundant at www.sierrapacific.com. Each tier of tips helps customers conserve energy by 10-25 percent. SPPC also offers a free home energy audit. Just call, and someone will come out within two weeks.
Larry Rackley, project manager for low-income weatherization, says his program offers substantial savings for people who desperately need to lower their bill. His program targets people at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level or 60 percent of the area median income.
Annually, this program weatherizes 300-400 homes and apartment buildings in Northern Nevada. The savings can be significant: “Anywhere from 25-45 percent on the electrical side and about 25 percent on the gas side, depending on what’s done,” Rackley says.
Again, replacing old refrigerators ranks high on savings, along with installing insulation and compact fluorescent bulbs. Furnace cleaning, weather stripping and caulking holes, doors and windows are other opportunities to save money and decrease your carbon footprint.
In Washoe County, the Community Services Agency has enrollment information. Citizens for Affordable Housing assists folks in Carson, Douglas, Storey and Lyon Counties.
Rackley works fast. He says, “Within a couple of weeks changes can be implemented.”
Outside, a long line of people waits to pay their power bills. All of them likely have the power to conserve more energy and pay lower bills, if they only knew it.