Energy the main topic at meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
Telemarketing calls from alternative energy suppliers, the cost of solar panels and a free home energy assessment were discussed at the June 27 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
"They call my cell phone a couple times a day," Citizens Utility Board outreach director Sarah Moskowitz said of the solicitations she gets from alternate energy companies. "Lately I’ve been getting some (calls) with the same prefix as mine."
Moskowitz said that some of the alternative energy providers may offer a lower rate for the first 3 months but that consumers should be aware that they might not be saving in the long run, and that Commonwealth Edison could be their best option.
"They’re generally not trying to save you money when they’re calling you," she said.
Information on the different energy companies is available on CUB’s Web site at www.citizens
utilityboard.org. Moskowitz recommends that consumers consider signing up for ComEd’s real-time pricing plan if they are able to reduce electrical use during peak times, such as during the daytime in the summer. Under the plan, consumers are charged the market rate at the time of use instead of a fixed rate.
CUB, a nonprofit agency, was formed in the 1980s to help consumers deal with utility companies. "We talk to people about how not to get ripped off and how to read your bill," Moskowitz said.
Some electric suppliers are offering "green power" options but these packages don’t mean that the power to one’s home is coming from a renewable energy source, Moskowitz said. She said that consumers should be aware that "ComEd already is being held to renewable energy standards."
The cost of installing solar panels can be as low as $11,000, and home owners may be eligible for tax credits or rebates which can cover some of the expenses, Moskowitz said. "I never thought I’d see the price of solar come down so much," she said.
For those ComEd customers who cannot afford to install the panels, they can participate in the community solar program, Moskowitz said. Subscribers to the program help fund a community solar garden and in return they get credits on their electric bill.
Moskowitz urged residents to take advantage of a free home energy assessment offered to ComEd customers. The program is designed to help reduce electric and natural gas costs and includes the free installation of LED bulbs, hot water pipe insulation and a programmable thermostat.
The next association meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.