To reduce demand on its strained energy supply, the Potomac Electric Power Co. said yesterday it will insulate thousands of Maryland homes and send out more than a million coupons for a 75 percent price reduction on energy-efficient light bulbs.
Consumer representatives said Pepco's new conservation plans are the most generous offered in Maryland. They said Pepco's move would pressure other Maryland energy companies to beef up their efforts to help Marylanders reduce their utility bills.
State regulators have been reforming the way local electric utilities do business over the last year, offering them rewards for conserving instead of selling energy and pushing
them to negotiate new conservation plans with consumer groups and environmentalists.
Pepco, which serves the Washington metropolitan area, including 385,000 homes in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties, was the first to adopt the reforms.
Last fall, the company offered cash rebates to consumers who bought energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment for their homes and businesses and assistance to builders who increased the insulation of new homes. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. followed suit, saying it will start offering similar rebates and assistance to its ratepayers this month.
Pepco received state permission last week to proceed with four new conservation programs. According to plans filed with the Public Service Commission, the company will:
* Mail out coupons offering deep discounts on energy-efficient light bulbs, water heater insulation, and cost-saving shower heads to its residential customers in Maryland. The coupons, redeemable at local stores, will offer about $15 off the price of special fluorescent light bulbs that normally cost $20, for example, and about $45 off water heater jackets that retail for about $60. By 1997, Pepco expects to spend $10 million and send out coupons for about 1 million light bulbs.
* Offer free insulation and weatherproofing to apartment houses. Pepco employees and contractors will install the energy- efficient equipment in 16,750 low-income residences between now and 1995. It will then offer the same free improvements to 60,000 other apartment houses. The company expects to spend $10 million on the repairs by 1997.
* Experiment with free retrofitting for all-electric homes. The company will install energy-saving devices in 1,750 homes and will monitor the homes to see which equipment really saves energy.
The experiment is expected to cost $880,000 over the next three years.
* Offer nearly $60 million in rebates to owners of office buildings who install energy-efficient equipment and insulation. The company will pay the extra cost of upgrading from regular heating equipment, for example, to highly efficient equipment. Improvements to motors, cooling equipment and lamps will also win rebates.