Families benefit from energy conservation

| January 6, 2012 | 2 Comments

Island Palm Communities
News Release

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — More than half of families living within Island Palm Communities, both in the north and south regions, are rising to the occasion to conserve energy through their participation in the Army’s utility consumption program.

The program is mandated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to help the Department of Defense reduce energy, but families are benefiting from it.

Families can earn cash rebates for conserving energy, and money saved through the program will support amenities and services enjoyed by all IPC residents.

Since the program began last summer, nearly $300,000 in rebates have been paid to families during the July-November 2011 period.

“This is what we want to see — families being conscientious about their energy and reaping the benefits,” Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. “The average number of families receiving a rebate has increased each month, and I hope this is a growing trend.

“We’re still analyzing data, but preliminary reports show more than a five-percent reduction in our families’ energy consumption July-November 2011, compared to the same period in 2010,” he said.

The amount of an average rebate check is $96. Rebates and bills are generated once the “trigger” point of $50 is exceeded.

The number of families receiving a bill has remained fairly steady, averaging approximately 16 percent of participating residents each month.

“For Soldiers receiving a bill, I want to emphasize your obligation to pay it and encourage you to do so the month it becomes due. If you don’t and continue to exceed the baseline, the amount owed will only increase,” Mulbury said.

A Soldier’s command will be notified should a utility bill become 90 days past due, and the family will not be allowed to clear housing until the balance owed is paid.

“Following a full year of mock billing, I’m confident that how we classify home profiles and determine baselines is reasonable,” Mulbury said, adding that there also is a 10-percent buffer above and below the baseline and usage that falls within the zone requires no payment and generates no rebate.

Baselines are determined by calculating the average energy consumption of all homes belonging to a specific profile. To calculate the baseline, unoccupied homes, homes in partial billing periods (move-ins and move-outs), and the highest and lowest 10- percent of users are first removed.

USAG-HI uses a rolling baseline, which means the average will change each month. The rolling baseline is intended to adjust with current weather conditions and adjust to resident needs.

“Saving energy is just adopting a lot of common sense habits, such as turning lights off during the day or when you’re not in a room, using energy-saving light bulbs, ensuring the thermostat is at a proper setting — even a couple of degrees count — turning off the A/C and letting fresh air in on cooler or breezier days, or consolidating laundry loads and washing with appropriate water temperatures,” Mulbury said.

“A lot of families are doing a great job conserving energy, and I want to thank them for making their efforts,” Mulbury said. “As more families begin to conserve, I truly believe we can make a significant impact on preserving our environment in the islands and helping achieve DOD energy goals.”

Daily energy consumption

Families can view their daily energy consumption at www.esoems.com. The site gives users an opportunity to see how their daily habits might impact consumption, allowing them to make any necessary adjustments and stay close to the average. Residents with questions about their energy consumption statements or those who want to request a home energy audit can call ista at 800-569-3014 or email inquiries@ista-na.com.

Conservation tips

Tips and resources on conserving energy are posted monthly on the SYNERGY Tips page at www.islandpalmcommunities.com, under “Resident’s Programs.”

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Comments (2)

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  1. MAJ Joseph Hudak says:

    After reading your article published 6 January 2012 titled “Families benefit from energy conservation” I was very disappointed in the apparent one-sided reporting. Many residents including myself are not satisfied with this program for several reasons. The housing groups do not make sense. For example, I live on a street with only 6 houses, all new construction, all identical square footage and number of bedrooms and all built at the same time. The only differences in the houses are that half are mirror image floor plans of the other half. Despite this, we are in at least 3 different billing groups with over $100 in the top of the “free zone” allowed each month. Even though we all use very similar amounts of energy and the actual calculated dollar amount is close, some families routinely recieve rebate checks of $100 or more while other families routinely end up owing money each month. This appears to be entirely due to the effect of being in different billing groups. After several of the families contacted Ista about this we recieved explainations that ranged from “the houses must be different square footage or have different numbers of bedrooms” which is completely inaccurate all the way to “the angle that the sun hits the house is part of the reason” which is not only absurd but also is not accurate since all the houses are lined up on the 2 sides of the street. Therefore this mysterious sun angle effect would be the same for all the houses. Neither Ista nor Island Palms is willing to explain how the houses were grouped, provide item by item descriptions of how the houses differ, or to provide any information about other houses in each billing group.

    This program first and foremost needs a comprehensive review. In addition there needs to be much more transparency in how the billing groups are determined. Finally, when a customer has a concern they should not be given the run around or provided with inaccurate and frankly insulting explainations of how thier concern could not possibly be valid. They should be provided with a factual, substiantiated, and respectful answer to their concern.

    Hawaii Army Weekly should also be more complete in their reporting. This article appeared after several residents began questioning the utility billing. It feels a lot like a public relations push since people have begun to have serious questions about this new program.

    Respectfully,
    MAJ Joseph Hudak
    Resident, Island Palms South

    • haw says:

      MAJ Hudak,

      I apologize for any confusion and any run around you have experienced. I forwarded your concerns to IPC, and they will be looking into the profile and baseline. An analysis of the consumption, profiles and baseline for the residents is under progress, and you will be contacted once the analysis is complete.

      The garrison and the Army are committed to being responsible stewards of the environment, and this program is a step in the right direction to help Soldiers, families and civilians be aware of their personal impact on sustainability. As with any new program, there are kinks to be worked out, and we thank you for your patience during this process.

      I’m going to disagree with one point though. The article was run to inform residents, who, yes, have been questioning the program. That is the point of publishing the article, to get the information out to the residents to answer these questions. If questions are not answered through the article’s information, additional points of contact were shared. I’m not sure why you feel this is the wrong action to take. Not releasing the correct information, direct from the source, especially when people are questioning the process, would seem to be the incorrect and irresponsible course for the garrison to take.

      I hope this helps clear up at least the HAW’s point of view in releasing relevant information to the public.

      ~Lacey Justinger
      USAG-HI PAO

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