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Wake Leaders Seek New Ways To Cut Electricity Bill This Winter

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County officials say they are looking at several new ways to save money on rising utility bills as the temperature outside falls this winter.

"It's an extreme concern because there is no new money," said Wake County General Services Administration Director David L. Goodwin.

Many county buildings have automated heating and cooling systems but in those that do not, leaders are asking department heads and employees to lower the thermostat by just one degree.

The county estimates the one-degree difference will save $5,000 to $10,000 a month on its electric bill -- and possibly more.

"We don't want people to be uncomfortable because they don't work as hard, but we do want to trim some money," Goodwin said. "This is taxpayer money and we need to save it."

With 40 percent of its electric bill coming from lighting, the county is also asking employees and cleaning crews to shut off lights when they leave a room. For energy and safety reasons, this year, employees are also discouraged from using space heaters.

The city of Raleigh is also taking steps to decrease utility costs. Working with Progress Energy, the city has gotten new rates on about 60 accounts. Leaders have also asked each department to develop strategies to minimize power use.

Last month, the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved an 11-percent rate increase for natural gas, which will push the average monthly gas bill this winter to $174. The state said the increase was just the reality of a strained energy market.


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