WAPA event connects customers with resources to cut energy consumption
Published: August 10, 2013
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ST. CROIX - An introductory event for a new V.I. Water and Power Authority business unit that was developed to provide resources to help customers reduce their energy and water consumption is set to continue today, with the VIEnergize Fair at the Agriculture Department fairgrounds.
"It will be fun," said WAPA spokeswoman Cassandra Dunn, adding that energy providers, service providers and product information will be available at the fairgrounds.
The fair will also feature workshops - including one on steps residents can take to reduce their WAPA bills - children's activities, giveaways and music, she said.
WAPA developed VIEnergize with a $600,000 Department of Interior grant to better educate customers about energy conservation and efficiency, and to help them implement energy efficient measures in their homes and businesses, Dunn said.
The unit also will promote the use of clean energy.
One aspect of what VIEnergize will do is to bring together a network of local energy professionals that meet quality and ethical standards. VIEnergize then will connect that network with customers seeking information and services.
A conference on Friday, the first day of the two-day launch, drew about 85 people, a cross-section of the community, Dunn said.
Speakers at the event, at the V.I. Cardiac Center, included representatives from The Building Performance Institute, Inc., a credentialing organization, who spoke about the importance of developing quality standards in the territory's emerging energy industry, according to WAPA.
"It's going very, very well," Dunn said Friday morning. "Three's been a lot of interaction, a lot of networking between consumers and vendors and contractors, federal and local officials. It's been energizing because you see there's so much potential."
VIEnergize provides education for consumers on what they can do to improve energy efficiency and what type of clean energy products they can use, said WAPA's chief financial officer, Julio Rhymer.
It will also be developing the network of reputable vendors, he said. Today's workshops include one taking vendors and service providers through the application process to be part of the VIEnergize Services Network.
The new VIEnergize business unit will charge for some of its services, such as energy audits, because the unit will be a self-funding one, Rhymer said.
For the audits, a fee structure - based on whether a customer is residential or commercial, and on size of the building and type of audit - is being developed, he said.
VIEnergize also hopes to bring some banks into the network, with the hope of working out a funding mechanism to help make clean energy solutions more affordable for customers, he said. One such funding mechanism could be similar to the one WAPA has used to help people pay for solar water heaters through savings on their electric bill, officials said.
Rhymer said he expects the VIEnergize business unit to be fully operational within a month.
The VIEnergize Fair is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agriculture Complex in Estate Lower Love.
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