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Behind the Scenes with Suzanne Kesling

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In school plays, I was always the stage manager – never the actor on stage. My job today is a little like that. I work behind the scenes supporting the energy efficiency programs we offer customers. I focus on streamlining and automating our systems so that it's easier for our customers to be energy efficient. Our goal is to make energy conservation automatic and "back-of-mind" – not an additional item on an already long to-do list. A good day for me is when I have made something easier, more cost-effective and more efficient. My family would tell you that I live by organization and efficiency. I think we all take home what we love about our jobs.

Prior to this position I worked for 25 years as a customer service supervisor. If I were talking to a customer today I would urge them to look at ways they can save energy and money by making their homes, businesses and lifestyles more energy efficient. It doesn't have to be a big project – it can be as simple as using energy efficient bulbs. There are many options available to customers today that didn't exist even a few years ago. Some of those are through Energizing Indiana, a united effort of the state's major utilities and consumer groups to make our state more energy efficient and bring savings to communities statewide. There are programs for homes, schools, businesses and commercial facilities. The offerings include: home energy assessments, weatherization programs aimed at low-income residents; financial incentives for businesses to make energy efficiency improvements; lighting programs where you can purchase energy efficiency bulbs at a discount; and programs to help make schools more efficient and students more aware of energy efficiency. And if we can get our kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room, we truly will have achieved something.

We have additional, Duke Energy-specific programs which give customers incentives to install high-efficiency heat pumps, air conditioners and geothermal systems in their homes. We also provide homeowners with bill credits for allowing us to cycle on and off their air conditioner or heat pump during times of high summer energy usage. We will even give you $30 for allowing us to come to your home and haul away your old, energy guzzling refrigerator. That's usually the one we all put in the garage 10 years ago, but they can use three times more energy than newer models. You can learn more about all of these programs at: http://www.duke-energy.com/indiana/savings.asp.

I know it may sound strange that a utility would want its customers to reduce their energy usage. It's a little like Nike asking consumers to buy fewer shoes. But it's expensive to build new power plants to keep up with growing demand. Our CEO Jim Rogers often likes to say that the least costly and most environmentally friendly power plant is the one we never have to build because we encouraged our customers to conserve power. Energy efficiency is a win for everyone.

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