Energy advisor: small businesses can reduce their electricity bill

Large or small, Clark County businesses are as unique as the people who created them, but whether they’re baking cakes or building ships, they all want to keep costs low and electric service reliable.

Industrial and commercial businesses, school districts and local governments tend to be Clark Public Utilities’ largest customers. This large group of a few hundred customers consumes significant amounts of energy to provide goods, services and paychecks to community members.

Large accounts get extra support and service from their Key Account Manager, because a power outage or vague details about their service is more than an inconvenience, it’s detrimental.

“A business becomes a key account when it regularly uses more than 75 kilowatts per month, that’s a bit more than a fast-food restaurant could use,” said Bill Hibbs, key account manager. “But, the fact is, there are thousands of businesses in the community that use less than 75 kilowatts each month who could really benefit from the same kinds of support that large key accounts receive – and we want those businesses know that we are here for them too.

Clark Public Utilities has just over 7,200 small business customers who individually don’t use much energy, but as a group consume nearly 341 million kilowatts per year. Taken together, this makes them the county’s second largest energy consumer group.

“Within those numbers, there are many opportunities to save energy and reduce monthly expenses,” said Mike Wallace, an energy services consultant with Clark Public Utilities who specializes in working with these small businesses. “A big part of my job is to show small business owners how it can be done.”

Wallace said when business leaders and homeowners look for ways to cut expenses, the energy bill is often overlooked.

“It’s often thought of as a fixed cost of doing business — until we explain how much lower that expense could be after some conservation measures,” he said.

A big problem for businesses of all sizes: programming the HVAC system to operate at a constant temperature, and only when the building is occupied. Usually a close second: lighting upgrade to LED bulbs.

Whether it’s a small boutique or a large store, Wallace can offer advice on reducing energy consumption and getting the most out of what’s being used.

“We can offer many custom solutions, all the customer has to do is contact us,” Wallace said. “There are rebates and incentives available for energy efficiency projects that can reduce a company’s energy bills in the long run, but many people don’t know about them until we have the chance to ‘talk about.

The utility is also there to help businesses when things don’t go as planned.

Over the past two years, Wallace has helped many small business clients develop plans to get back on track after falling behind on their energy bills.

“Like many of our residential customers, many of our small businesses went through tough times during the height of the pandemic and weren’t able to pay their utility bills for some time,” Wallace said. “We work closely with these customers to create personalized, flexible and affordable payment plans to catch up.”

Business customers can speak to Mike Wallace or another Energy Advisor by calling the Energy Advisor of the Day during business hours at 360-992-3355 or emailing [email protected]

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send your questions to [email protected] or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, PO Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98688.

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