Editorial: WMECO helps power change in Easthampton
It seems counter-intuitive, but a big electric utility gains by helping customers reduce demand, thus avoiding its own big costs from having to add generation capacity. That is surely part of what’s driving the Western Massachusetts Electric Co.’s energy-efficiency program in Easthampton.
Though its Main Street Energy Efficiency venture is just getting started, with 30 Easthampton businesses, WMECO is already pledging to roll it out through its territory. That will be welcome news to owners eager to engage one of the oldest instincts in business: reducing costs.
The program targets small businesses with narrow operating margins — in short, those most in need of help.
Participants first take advantage of outside advice on their power use and potential for new efficiencies. Then the utility helps them acquire new tools, such as energy-saving light fixtures and programmable thermostats. The steps are relatively simple, but just expensive enough to make many business owners postpone them. As Gazette reporter Rebecca Everett explained in an Environment section story this week, one Easthampton business, the Perfect Arrangements floral shop, faced a roughly $1,200 cost to upgrade its lighting. Owner Barbara Paul didn’t like the way her current lighting makes flowers look. “But the funds are never there,” she told Everett, “it’s always on the back burner.”
The 30 slots for the Easthampton program filled up quickly, especially after Mayor Michael A. Tautznik personally delivered information about the pilot to businesses on Main, Union and Cottage streets. WMECO expects to invest $55,000 in the Easthampton upgrades.
And then it will be on to the wider Valley, where we expect the utility’s invitations to participate will be gobbled up just as readily.