December 31, 2003

Flex Your Power, California’s statewide energy efficiency initiative, is encouraging ethnic, rural and low-income residents to “flex their power” now and to save energy and money on their utility bills

“With high energy prices now – which are only going to get higher in the future – this is the time to invest in energy efficiency,” said Wally McGuire, who runs the Flex Your Power campaign. Energy prices are up dramatically from the previous year—42 percent higher for natural gas, 60 percent higher for fuel oil than two years ago. Flex Your Power helps consumers find ways to save energy, including rebates and other incentives, which lower the cost of buying energy-efficient products. Energy-efficient products such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and ENERGY STAR appliances, use less energy to operate. With these products, energy is saved every day, often paying back more than the cost of the purchase price.

Energy use remains a key issue in California, yet only those residents who have access to information about energy efficiency programs can take full advantage of incentive and rebate programs. Low-income and ethnic communities, are often limited by geographic, financial, and language barriers to receiving adequate energy efficiency information and education.

Low-income families spend a significant portion of their earnings on home energy costs every year. “Energy efficiency can help relieve this burden,” said McGuire, “But we must all work together to get the message out to rural, ethnic and low-income populations. The entire community must get involved. These residents are not getting the information they need to reap the savings they deserve.”

To date, only 5 million out of 29 million low-income homes and apartments in America that qualify for government energy efficiency assistance have been weatherized. Studies of national programs show typical weatherization improvements will save consumers about $300 in home energy. In California, several rebate and assistance programs focused on ethnic, rural or low-income populations are not meeting their goals. “We must take steps now to reach households about the benefits of energy efficiency,” said McGuire.

To bring the benefits of energy efficiency to all, Flex Your Power is working with the ethnic press to develop culturally relevant educational information for their audiences.

As a resource for journalists researching issues of energy efficiency relevant to their communities, the Flex Your Power website (www.fypower.com) delivers detailed descriptions and information on all the energy and water efficiency programs and services of the utilities, nonprofits, water agencies and others in the state. In addition, Flex Your Power’s twice-monthly newsletter is a key energy efficiency resource emphasizing attainable improvements, practical solutions and tangible benefits.

With more than 1,000 incentive and technical assistance programs, www.fypower.com allows Californians to find all programs they can take advantage of from one source, ensuring that valuable opportunities to save money and energy will not be missed.

Some sample information available at www.fypower.com :

· Utility programs

o Small Business Energy Assistance Program: Education and outreach with low and no cost energy audits; refers customers to available rebates.

· Non-utility programs

o LightWash: rebates up to $450 for high-efficiency clothes washers for use in multi-family properties and institutions with common area laundries, businesses and coin laundry stores.

· Low-income programs

o Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): LIHEAP offers financial assistance to offset the costs of heating and/or cooling homes, and home weatherization measures that make homes more energy efficient.

ABOUT FLEX YOUR POWER:

Flex Your Power is California’s statewide energy efficiency marketing and outreach initiative. The Flex Your Power effort includes a partnership of over 1500 home improvement and appliance stores which sell energy efficiency products. Through this partnership, retailers deliver educational materials on energy efficiency measures, resulting in significant statewide energy savings. Flex Your Power has received national recognition and numerous awards, including the 2003 ENERGY STAR National Award for Regional, State and Community Leadership in Energy Efficiency. More information is available about cooperative educational activities at www.fypower.com or by calling 415-771-7571.

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