Pierz drops electric rebate program

The city of Pierz will no longer offer electrical rebates, as has been the practice since it was mandated in 2013.

That year, through the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), the state mandated that municipal electric utilities take part in such a rebate program. The idea was to encourage businesses and residents to think energy efficiency when purchasing new items.

Pierz, a municipal electricity provider for its residents, worked to meet the CIP goals set forth by the state, with the help of a company called Energy Insight Inc.

The goals set for the city were a 1.5 percent of its gross annual retail sales in energy savings (kWh); 1.5 percent of gross operating revenues on total spending for the rebates and .20 percent of its residential gross operating revenues, which is called low-income spending.

The city’s actual came in at .78 percent energy savings; .82 percent total spending and .12 percent in low-income spending.

Over that four-year period, the city spent $10,000 each year in administration fees to Energy Insight Inc. The rebates totaled $20,678.65 over the four years, with some of the larger rebates going to the schools and a couple of businesses during remodeling projects.

In May, the Legislature changed the mandate, exempting electric co-ops serving less than 5,000 members and municipals serving less than 1,000 retail electric customers.

Pierz serves about 750 customers with electricity. Energy Insight Inc. had the city at 882 customers, but City Administrator Nicole Nordlund said it might have been counting the number of meters, as opposed to the actual number of customers.

With the change, Pierz had a choice to remain in the program or not.

City Clerk Dave Fischer, a new member of the city’s Electrical Committee as he was just elected in 2016, recommended the city not stay in the program.

“I was surprised about how much we were losing on it,” Fischer said. “That was a required program, we didn’t enter into that program by choice.”

“It’s costing taxpayers $10,000 a year for administration,” said Council Member Mike Menden.

The Council unanimously voted Monday not to remain in the program, citing the large administrative expense being paid by taxpayers, for a small return for customers.