Utilities discourage switching to electric heat

06/25/08 6:14PM By John Dillon

(Host) Vermont's electric utilities are discouraging their customers from switching to electric heat or hot water.

The recent run-up in fuel prices has prompted hundreds of consumers to consider converting from oil or propane heat to systems powered by electricity.

But Steve Costello of Central Vermont Public Service Corporation says people should do their homework before making the switch.

(Costello) Right now, for most customers, it probably won't save them much if any money. And there are a lot of pitfalls associated with it, potentially large electric bills that they won't be able to pay. And also taxing of the grid. In southern Vermont in particular in CV's case we have constraints on the southern loop and an increase in numbers of people using electric heat or hot water could really cause some problems for us in terms of being able to feed the load that's there already.

(Host) Costello said about 300 customers have contacted the company about electric heat or hot water. But CVPS - along with 20 other state utilities - is making an unusual plea for people not to buy more electricity.

Instead, Costello said customers should research alternatives, such as wood pellets, solar hot water systems, or natural gas.

(Costello) We think there are a lot of options that people can look at and really should do their homework before they resort to electric heat. We also want to encourage people to take advantage of things that are out there that could be significant help to them.

(Host) Costello said consumers can reduce heating costs by making their homes more energy efficient. And they should see if they qualify for state weatherization assistance programs.




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