Economic times have been tough for a while now. As a person that is responsible for the financial security of my family as well as myself, I have become the type of bill payer who scrutinizes every line on the various monthly statements that I receive. I’m not the type of guy who wants to haggle over a few dollars a month, but I am the type of person that wants to know what I’m paying for and where that money is going.
There is a line item on my utility bill labeled “EmPower Maryland Charge Res” and it’s only for a handful of dollars each month ($0.002657 per KWH, to be exact). Under the 2008 EmPower Maryland Act, every ratepayer makes this contribution in order to invest in the most cost effective strategy for meeting the state’s growing demand for energy. The goal of this Act is to reduce Maryland’s energy consumption by 15% by the year 2015, rather than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on another coal-burning power plant, which would add additional pollutants into the atmosphere. These funds have been targeted to deploy a variety of programs, incentives and rebates to help make buildings more energy efficient.
The program that has the greatest potential to benefit homeowners is the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. This is a comprehensive program that diagnoses and implements the most cost effective opportunities for making energy improvements. Every home receives a detailed blower-door analysis of air leaks, an inspection of insulation quality, and a comprehensive plan generated through computer modeling to reduce energy consumption by up to 40% .
The funds that are collected through the EmPower Maryland Act are currently being used to incentivize Maryland homeowners to take advantage of this program. The cost of the Home Energy Assessment test has been reduced by 80%, and a rebate cuts the cost of installing energy efficiency measures by 50% (up to $2,000).
This is a great program, with a great purpose. It is a forward thinking Act that will benefit everyone. Being a lifelong environmentalist, I have to say that the EmPower Maryland line item on my monthly bill is one that I will gladly continue to pay, and I will make sure that this “best kept secret” does not stay clandestine for too long.