EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
This month, I and other Corvias Military Housing community residents received their first electricity billing statements as part of the Air Force’s Resident Energy Conservation Program, three-month mock billing cycle.
This precedes the live billing set to be distributed in February 2017 for the month of January and allows residents to become accustomed to their typical usage, make necessary conservation efforts that reduce energy costs and waste, and work to increase awareness on how the energy they use impacts the environment.
The Air Force’s utility policy is based on the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s policy to provide incentives to residents to conserve energy. The Air Force supports this effort by providing incentives to occupants of privatized housing to responsibly decrease utility consumption and save energy.
Essentially, responsibility means awareness of usage and conservation. Residents know they will owe money for excessive usage; therefore there is an incentive to conserve energy and bring the usage down.
Each month a baseline is established based on actual usage for occupied “like homes” (homes of the same size, year of construction, type of heating and cooling unit, etc.) and then each home is categorized into profiles or groups; there are about 28 profiles on Eielson.
The baseline is recalculated each month for the previous month by reviewing usage of the homes of each profile, removing vacant homes, faulty data and the top and bottom homes, and then averaging the consumption. This produces a monthly kilowatt hour (kWh) total value and after a “grace zone” of 5 percent, plus or minus, is factored in, a resulting total is presented and billed to the customer. In some cases, customers will receive a credit, while others will be required to pay their overage cost.
The fundamental truth of this program is that the averages are derived from the residents themselves; these averages are a reflection of the communities energy consumption and a testament of residents’ ability to effectively and responsibly, or lack thereof, manage their energy usage.
According to a Conservice spokesperson – the Utah-based company charged with monitoring, billing and addressing energy concerns – the manner in which homes at Eielson are heated is not counted against our baseline. Rather, an everyday resource like lighting, appliances, and consumer electronics consume the greatest amount of an average home’s electric usage.
There are simple ways to reduce both the cost and resulting energy impacts that seem small but result in tangible savings at the end of the year. For instance, a laptop consumes 15 watts while a typical desktop computer and monitor uses 10 times more energy at about 150 watts.
As a community, residents have the “power” to curtail their usage and make significant impacts to the environment, and similarly, the power to make no changes at all and allow the statistics pointing to a crumbling environment continue to diminish in promise. More importantly, as a community, residents must be prepared to hold each other accountable for how they manage their monthly averages.
Since these are not set or established averages by anyone or anything other than community residents themselves, there can be little blame directed externally. Residents must make responsible choices that are absent of excuses, but rather inspired by a willingness to make substantial changes that directly and distinctly improve the environment.
With two remaining mock billing cycles before live bills are delivered to homes in February, there is plenty of time to educate family members on ways they can help and to make necessary adjustments.
As this process is new and still in the mock billing phase, additional research and information will be vetted by the public affairs office and provided to the public. In the meantime, we encourage healthy community involvement, discussion and support as we work through transitioning into this Air Force-directed initiative.
To review additional information about the Resident Energy Conservation Program, learn about ways to curtail and improve energy usage, and read about the Air Force Energy Initiative, please see the links and documents above.
For more information about Conservice, or to inquire about specific billing-related charges, please contact Conservice customer service at 1-866-947-7379 or visit its website at www.militaryutilities.com.