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NEWS | Sept. 11, 2012

Balfour Beatty to start utility billing in 2013

By Airman 1st Class George Goslin Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Beginning Feb. 15, 2013, Balfour Beatty Community Housing residents will receive mock utility bills to prepare them for a new, live billing system for gas and electricity. The three-month mock billing period is designed to aid housing residents in getting an estimate of their energy consumption before live billing takes place so they may adjust their habits accordingly.

Once live billing begins, residents using less than the established amount of electricity and gas for their style home will be issued refunds or credits. Residents who go over their allotted power usage will have to pay out of pocket for the extra energy costs.

In 1998, the Office of the Secretary of Defense established a policy requiring residents of privatized family housing to pay utilities to encourage energy conservation under the Resident Energy Conservation Program.

"Research performed by the U.S. Navy has shown housing residents tend to use up to 20 percent less utilities when they are directly responsible for utility payments," said Lea Williford, Navy Region South East Housing team lead for Public Private Venture and Requirements. "The mock bill will clearly state what the normal usage would be for their type of home, and also what they would have to pay for going over their usage limit or what they would be refunded if they conserve enough to stay below the limit."

The usage for the residents will be determined by their house type, which will be grouped into other, like-type homes based on construction type, year built, and number of bedrooms along with other factors that affect the energy efficiency of the home. Every month, the average usage for each group will be calculated and a baseline will be determined for that like-type group, with weather changes being accounted for. A 10 percent buffer will be added above and below the baseline, and residents will be responsible for payment of their utility usage above that buffer. However, residents below the buffer will be eligible for a refund, rewarding those who go the extra mile to conserve on energy. Any residents falling within the buffer range will not be charged more, nor will they receive a refund.

"Under the Navy program, residents will not be required to make a payment until their cumulative balance is greater than $25, unless it is their final bill," Williford said. "Residents also will not receive a refund check until their cumulative savings are greater than $25 unless, again, it is their final bill."

All military members living in Balfour Beatty Community Housing, no matter their branch of service, must sign a lease requiring residents to participate in the RECP. The Air Force, as well as the Army and Marine Corps bases that have privatized housing will soon be implementing this feature as well, with the main goal being energy conservation from everyone.

"The Navy has a progressive roll-out schedule for all of their installations that are privatized," said Williford. "Joint Base Charleston is part of the Navy Southeast Project which consists of 11 installations. All of these installations will begin the RECP program at the same time."

Residents can request that their property manager perform an evaluation of their home to ensure all of the appliances and energy using features of the home are in good order, and property managers are also available to provide tips on making homes more energy efficient. The 10 percent buffer around the utility usage also accounts for any differences in energy consumption of different appliances between newer and older homes.

According to Allison Pack, Forest City property manager, JB Charleston - Air Base housing will not be implementing this program until 2014.

Residents will receive their first live bill on or around May 15, 2013, for the April service period after the three month mock billing phase.

Balfour Beatty will be holding a series of Town Hall meetings to answer any questions residents may have about the new billing system. The dates of those meetings will be announced in the near future.