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Michigan Low Income Benefit from Efficiency Mandate

April 18, 2012 -- A state law requiring Michigan utilities to help reduce energy consumption by their income-qualified customers will result in free energy efficiency guidance for some 5,000 homes in Genesee County.

Consumers Energy says it has teamed up with an Okemos-based company, CLEAResult, to reach out to low-income families to provide free energy conservation counseling and assistance.

Last year, under a pilot program in Kalamazoo called Helping Neighbors, CLEAResult reported helping over 1,500 income-qualified customers save energy costs.

Consumers officials say the program was designed to target young Head Start students and their parents. This group was identified after studies indicated that income-qualified homes consumed 28 percent more energy per square foot than high-income households.

This year, officials with CLEAResult say they are growing the program in Genesee County, with a goal of reaching 5,000 households.

To qualify for the free energy assistance program, the household must meet income eligibility guidelines. For a family of four, the household income must be below $46,100 per year to qualify.

Once a household meets the income guidelines, a service agent makes an appointment. The company provides basic energy efficiency education as well as furnace tune-ups, programmable thermostats, low-flow shower heads, high efficiency faucet aerators, water heater pipe wraps, insulation for water heater pipes and up to 10 compact florescent light bulbs. They also provide additional information regarding local agencies that assist with other energy efficiency and weatherization work.

The program is fully funded by Consumers Energy as part of the company's comprehensive energy efficiency portfolio. A 2008 state law requires large utility providers in Michigan supply energy efficiency education to help reduce energy consumption. Consumers Energy says its goal is to use its education programs to help reduce electric consumption by 5.5 percent by 2015. It also plans to reduce natural gas by about four percent during the same time period.

Source: Consumers Energy, newspapers