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June 26, 2022

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Energy Adviser: Small businesses can lower power bill

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

Industrial and commercial businesses, school districts and local governments tend to be Clark Public Utilities’ largest customers. This important group of just a few hundred customers consumes significant quantities of energy to deliver goods, services and paychecks to people within the community.

Key accounts get additional support and service from their assigned key accounts manager because a power supply interruption or vague details about their service is more than an inconvenience, its detrimental.

“A business becomes a key account when they regularly use more than 75 kilowatts per month—that’s a little more than a fast food restaurant might use,” said Key Accounts Manager Bill Hibbs. “But, the thing is, there are thousands of businesses in the community using less than that 75 kilowatts each month that could really benefit from the same types of support those larger key accounts receive — and we want these businesses to know that we’re here for them, too.”

Clark Public Utilities has just over 7,200 small business customers, which, on an individual basis don’t use much power, but as a group consume almost 341 million kilowatts annually. When considered as a whole, that makes them the second-largest power consuming groups in the county.

“Within those numbers are many opportunities to conserve energy and lower monthly expenses,” said Mike Wallace, a Clark Public Utilities Energy Services Counselor who specializes in working with these small businesses. “A big part of my job is showing small business leaders how it can be done.”

Wallace said when business managers and owners are searching for ways to reduce their expenses the energy bill is often overlooked.

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

A big one for businesses of all sizes: scheduling the HVAC system to run at a consistent temperature, and only when the building is occupied. Usually a close second: upgrading the lighting to LED bulbs.

Whether it’s a small boutique or big shop, Wallace can offer advice to lower energy consumption and make the most of what is used.

“We can offer many personalized solutions, all the customer has to do is reach out to us,” Wallace said. “There are rebates and incentives available for energy efficiency projects that can reduce a business’s energy bills over the long term, but many folks don’t know about them until we have the chance to talk.”

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

In the last two years, Wallace has helped many small business customers build plans to get back on track after they’ve fallen behind on their energy bills.

“Just as many of our residential customers did, many of our small business customers went through hard times during the height of the pandemic and couldn’t pay utility bills for a while,” Wallace said. “We work closely with those customers to build personalized, flexible and affordable payment plans to get caught up.”

Commercial customers can speak with Mike Wallace or another energy counselor by calling the Energy Counselor of the Day during business hours at 360-992-3355 or emailing ecod@clarkpud.com


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98688.

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