Program aims to reduce energy costs

COLUMBIA CITY — Through concerted efforts between Columbia City’s electric utility and the state’s municipal power supplier, area officials are hoping to burn a few less lumps of coal.During the regular session of Columbia City’s Board of Works and Safety Friday, Electric Department Superintendent Larry Whetstone announced a statewide program designed to “reduce energy use and save money.”Whetstone said the program is available to commercial and industrial customers of municipal utilities who are members of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency.“The IMPA Energy Efficiency Program offered by the city of Columbia City can help our commercial and industrial customers get the most from their energy dollars by installing proven energy-saving technologies,” said Whetstone.The program offers cash rewards to qualified customers for the installation of energy-saving items like lighting, motors, cooling systems and other equipment.The city has already jumped on the bandwagon, using a grant of $249,000 in 2010 to replace city street lights, a move Whetstone reported has already paid dividends.Whetstone told the board the city saved $1,737 in January and $1,040 in February.Columbia City Mayor Jim Fleck said programs like IMPA’s Energy Efficiency Program is a way for society to begin the long arduous journey away from dependency on fossil fuels.“Ninety-five percent of our energy comes from carbon-based fuel, which means it comes from burning coal,” Fleck said.“The commitments that are being made to reduce carbon emissions are huge.“We have an obligation to the rate payers and eventually to the taxpayers because the taxpayers pay our electric bill.”Whetstone said interested commercial and industrial customers can call the electric utility at 248-5115 to get a brochure and application form..To apply for a cash incentive, customers will have to fill out the application form and return it along with the supporting documentation described on the application to IMPA.Whetstone said IMPA offers cash incentives to qualified customers in the areas of energy-efficient lighting, motors, fans and drives, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, refrigeration, food service and controls.