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Tracking energy usage

Council OKs program that shows how neighbors’ meters compare.

November 11, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — Continuing a push to reduce power consumption citywide, the City Council last week authorized a program in which residents will receive information about their household energy use and recommendations on how to reduce it.

The reports tell customers how they are doing relative to others who live in the general neighborhood and have similar housing and demographic characteristics, said Jeanette Meyer, marketing manager for Burbank Water and Power.

Characteristics include square footage of the home, the number of household occupants — including the number and age of children in the household — and whether there is a pool.

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In the first year, more than half of the city’s 45,000 account holders would receive an individualized bimonthly report that contains an overview of energy use.

The balance would receive the reports in the second year, she said.

Research shows that a “Keeping up with the Joneses” approach is the only proven message that results in energy conservation, Meyer said.

“The interesting thing is this holds true even when we are doing better than our neighbors,” she said.

“So it’s like a competitive spirit that we have.”

The council voted 4 to 1, with dissenter Councilman David Gordon raising questions over privacy and the equity of leaving out commercial consumers.

“I would be very interested to see if it was applied in some commercial way, because it’s obviously directed to residents cutting back,” he said.

But others argued that the city must get the ball rolling before accounting for all users.

“I think we have to start somewhere with this,” Mayor Gary Bric said, calling it “a step in the right direction.”


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