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Get the most from your energy budget

URBANA, Ill. – Understanding how electric utilities work and the services available can help residents and governments invest resources wisely and save money. In a series of energy policy webinars, University of Illinois Extension's energy efficiency educational program staff will highlight policy changes, smart meter technologies, and energy efficiencies local government officials and residential customers can use to lower energy costs.

“Extension's Smart Grid Education Outreach efforts provide reliable, research-based education to under-served rural, senior, and low income residents to help them leverage smart grid improvements for energy cost savings,” says Nancy Ouedraogo, Extension community and economic development specialist.

The free online webinars will begin at noon on Thursdays, Aug. 20, 27, and Sept. 10. Online registration is required. If reasonable accommodation is needed to participate, or for more information, contact Ouedraogo at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting access needs.

The August 20 webinar will describe smart meter technology and the evolution of the utility policy to help customers use demand-response programs and energy efficiency improvements to lower costs and improve service. Presenters include staff from Elevate Energy and the Citizens Utility Board.

Ameren's Illinois Energy Efficiency Program aims to cut operating costs, boost budgets, and invest in energy efficiencies for facilities and communities, Ouedraego says. On Aug. 27, Ameren representatives will discuss incentive programs for municipality-owned street lighting, Small Facility Direct Install, HVAC, water heater, water and waste-water treatment plants, new construction, and residential homes. Participants will receive a coupon for a free office smart thermostat.

The Sept. 10 webinar will provide an overview of ComEd's energy efficiency programs.


Stanley (Jay) Solomon, environment and energy stewardship educator, provides leadership in Illinois Extension's environmental and energy programs in northwest Illinois for residents, landowners, and communities. His programming areas include enhancement and protection of natural resources, energy conservation, and alternative energy. As the principle investigator for the Illinois Extension Smart Grid Outreach grant project, Solomon provides leadership to the statewide program focused on energy literacy education based on new smart grid technology, energy efficiency, and renewable energy options.  

Ashley Belle is an Extension environmental and energy stewardship educator. As a co-principal investigator for Extension's Smart Grid Outreach Project, she delivers statewide programming focused on the electric smart grid, smart meter technology, and home energy efficiency. 

Scott Allen is an environmental outreach coordinator at the Citizens Utility Board.  He joined the organization in 2014, and opened CUB's first downstate office in Hillsboro.  Scott now lives in Urbana, and in addition to consumer outreach, he represents a caucus of downstate individuals and organizations at the state Climate Table of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition.

Gabriel Guevara works for Elevate Energy, a non-profit, and is responsible for community and residential education on energy efficiency and lowering energy costs. He builds partnerships between Elevate Energy and local organizations within communities.

Carol Kulek is an independent contractor specializing in public sector energy efficiency outreach and marketing for Leidos. Carol worked at the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs for nearly 30 years and managed a variety of policy initiatives and program efforts in the offices of Workforce Development and Economic Development. She served as outreach and marketing manager for the Office of Energy. While at DCEO, Carol worked extensively with Ameren Illinois in the development of outreach initiatives for the Energy Efficiency Portfolio. Carol is accredited by the Illinois Economic Development Association.

SOURCE: Nancy Ouedraogo, Community and Economic Development Specialist, Illinois Extension
WRITER: Carissa Mann, Communications, Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.