Duke Energy efficiency programs expanding

The state Public Service Commission this week approved an expansion of Duke Energy Kentucky's energy-efficiency programs.

The commission approved Duke's plan to continue 11 existing programs as well as add a new one called Residential Smart Saver in cooperation with the Kentucky Housing Corp., according to a PSC news release.

The program will offer incentives of as much as $250 to cover part of the cost of items like air sealing, attic insulation, duct sealing, and tuneups for air conditioning and heat pumps. The incentives also will be available for the installation of high-efficiency heat pumps or air conditioners in homes.

The program won't have income limits. Instead of the incentives, Duke will provide direct installation of energy efficiency options for low-income customers.

Duke serves about 135,000 electric customers and 95,000 natural gas customers in Northern Kentucky in Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton and Pendleton counties.

Duke's various programs also include energy audits, energy bill assistance and financial incentives to customers who let the utility remotely turn off their air conditioners during peak usage times in the summer months.

As part of the PSC's approval, the utility also will lower the surcharges assessed on residential electric and natural gas bills for the programs. The surcharge on electric bills will decrease from 0.18 cents per kilowatt-hour to 0.15 cents. The surcharge on residential natural gas bills will drop from 74.8 cents per 1,000 cubic feet to 16.5 cents.