Since 1980, at the direction of Congress, BPA turned to conservation as the cheapest source of new power for the region. The City of Ashland has developed an extensive and impressive portfolio of programs and services aimed at resource conservation and enhanced community development.
The first conservation program adopted by the city council was the Water Heater Wrap Program. The city installed water heater blankets for residential and commercial customers free of charge. In 1982, the city converted its street and area lighting from mercury vapor to high-pressure sodium lights. Funded by the BPA this program replaced 12-hundred lights, including city lamps and lamps for the Ashland School District and Southern Oregon State College.
One of the most popular conservation programs is residential weatherization. The city provided free energy audits to determine necessary weatherization measures. If qualified, installation includes ceiling, wall, floor and duct insulation, storm windows, clock thermostats, caulking and weather stripping. A cash grant covering up to 60 percent of the total installation costs for the project is provided through the program with up to 90 percent funding available for low-income residents. Rebates of up to $60 dollars are offered to customers who replace their old electric hot water heaters with new energy-efficient ones through the Electric Water Heater Rebate Program, which is part of BPA's Appliance Efficiency Program.
In May of 1985, the city implemented the Super Good Cents program for new homes. This BPA-sponsored program takes advantage of the fact that at the time of new construction, efficiency can be built in for only a marginal cost when compared to the full cost of retrofitting homes. Super Good Cents encourages new homes to be built in excess of the energy-efficient levels of the Oregon Building Code as these residences use one-third to one-half less electricity for space heating than a standard home. Compliance earns builders cash incentives and Super Good Cents certification adds to the home's market value. Cash grants are also awarded to commercial building owners who install energy-efficient measures, such as advanced lighting systems for both new construction and retrofits.
The Bonneville Power Administration provided Ashland's municipal utility with the bulk of the capital for many of the energy efficiency programs that the city has conducted. BPA, however, could not be counted upon to fund all of Ashland's proposed conservation plans. Forced to find alternative financial resources, Ashland -- along with six other Oregon municipal utilities -- formed an intergovernmental agency called the Oregon Municipal Electric and Conservation Agency or OMECA. The group is currently working to find ways to fund conservation programs without BPA financial assistance.
The City of Ashland has been recognized numerous times by BPA and other organizations as a leader is conservation-based programs and has won several awards for this concentrated effort in energy conservation. Ashland consumers have saved approximately 65-thousand megawatt hours of power, with residential customers representing 73 percent of the total savings. As a result of this concentrated effort toward energy conservation, the average electric residential customer in Ashland consumes the lowest amount of power of any municipal utility, electric cooperative or investor-owned utility customer in the State of Oregon. See Conservation Programs for information on current conservation programs and Conservation Tips for a list of conservation tips.