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VIRGINIA POWER PLANS PROGRAM TO PROMOTE HEAT PUMP EFFICIENCY

 VIRGINIA POWER PLANS PROGRAM TO PROMOTE HEAT PUMP EFFICIENCY
 RICHMOND, Va., June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Virginia Power today asked the State Corporation Commission to approve a pilot customer service program that would make payments to residential heat pump owners for the inspection and repair of their units.
 All heat pump owners living in individually metered, owner-occupied homes within the company's Virginia service area would be eligible to apply for the program, which is designed to promote the efficient use of energy by Virginia Power customers.
 As a pilot, the program would go into effect on Aug. 15 and conclude on Dec. 31 of this year. The company expects about 10,000 customers to participate in the inspection program and about 2,650 customers to seek assistance in repairing their heat pumps. About 500,000 homes in Virginia Power's service area have heat pumps.
 "The company views this pilot program as a significant customer service," said Edmund P. Wickham Jr., Virginia Power manager-Customer Service and Marketing. "Company research indicates some units are improperly installed or maintained, and are inefficient and therefore waste energy. This pilot program will determine the extent of the problem and what's needed to correct it."
 Under the program, Virginia Power would pay one-half the cost of a residential heat pump inspection by a qualified contractor. The program would limit the cost of the inspections to $50, and Virginia Power's maximum payment to a homeowner would be $25.
 Qualified contractors are Comfort Assured Heat Pump Dealers who have signed agreements with Virginia power to maintain trained and certified technicians. The contractors also follow heat pump installation guidelines developed by the industry to maximize operating efficiency. The inspectors will review factors such as the condition of the equipment and the installation and design of the ductwork. Each homeowner will receive a written evaluation, including recommendations for correcting any problems in the system.
 "The inspections should help homeowners determine how their heat pumps could operate more efficiently and effectively," Wickham said. "We believe heat pumps are one of the most energy-efficient means of heating and cooling, and we want to make sure our customers receive all the benefits they can from their systems without wasting energy."
 Under the second component of the proposal, Virginia Power's payments to homeowners for correction of heat pump problems would be one-half the cost of the work, but no more than $500. Qualified contractors would also perform the corrective work.
 Wickham said homeowners may be able to save energy and reduce their heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent by making sure their heat pumps are correctly installed and functioning properly. Properly installed heat pumps also provide additional comfort.
 On March 27, the SCC rescinded a 1970 order prohibiting promotional allowances by electric utilities. The commission's March order permitted the utilities to offer promotional programs in the public interest.
 "Clearly, we believe it is in the public interest to help our customers have their heat pump units operate effectively and use energy more efficiently," Wickham said. "If customers' heat pumps are not performing as well as they could be, this pilot program will determine the extent of the problem and what's needed to correct it."
 -0- 6/26/92
 /CONTACT: William H. Byrd, Virginia Power, 804-771-6115/ CO: Virginia Power ST: Virginia IN: UTI SU: PDT


CM -- CH008 -- 4354 06/26/92 16:36 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 26, 1992
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