Duke Energy to set up Residential Neighborhood program in Pickens

By Ben Robinson
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Duke Energy program manager Sue Dinnsen appeared before Pickens City Council Monday night [cointent_lockedcontent]with details about the company’s “Residential Neighborhood” program, which benefits low-income homes.

“I am here to introduce a program we are very proud to be bringing to the city of Pickens,” Dinnsen told council members. “I met with the mayor and (city administator) Bruce Evilsizor.”

“The residential neighborhood program is an energy-efficient program Duke offers to its customers,” Dinnsen said. “The main focus is we’re looking for some low-income homes. The program will help to lower their energy bills. They’re going to do things like offer a free in-home energy assessment, and they’re also going to get an education.

“We’re going to try to teach them and leave them with some tips on how to save energy.”

Dinnsen said eligibility requirements are rather open.

“The eligibility for this program are areas that we define where at least 50 percent of the households are at or below 200 percent of the poverty level,” Dinnsen said “What that means is for a family of four, their annual income is below $48,000. These are families that really need the help.”

Once Dinnsen determines a family is eligible once, no further research will be done.

“Once I designate the area, everybody with the boundaries of the area can participate, even if they are above those financial groupings,” Dinnsen said. “We do the income-level check first, and then from then on we don’t check income.”

Pickens could be the second area in the county to participate in the program.

“This program began back in 2013 in the Carolinas,” Dinnsen said. “Since that time we have serviced over 14,000 customers. We’ve chosen Pickens as out next place to come. We’ve done a lot of homes in South Carolina. I’m currently working with my crew in Liberty, and they’re doing really well.”

The program includes tips on how people can save energy.

“We’ve wrapped electric water heaters,” Dinnsen said. “These are features that are going to help you save money. We will give them covers for window units. If they have a central HVAC system, we’ll supply them with a year’s worth of filters. We recommend you change out every 30 days”

Dinnsen acknowledged the program would require much preliminary work.

“In order to make a program like this work, it takes a lot of upfront effort,” Dinnsen said. “That’s why I’m here, to work with you guys as community leaders to get the word out. We look to you guys to help us build awareness and acceptance of this program. We know how hard it is for some people to let strangers into their homes to do this work.

“Our crews will be going door to door knocking, and that makes people feel uncomfortable. So we want to work with the local police departments and make sure everybody in town know we’re here with a legitimate program.”

The kickoff event will be held Oct. 27 at The Mill Church at 158 Woodrow St. in Pickens.

“I’d like to invite the mayor to come and any other member of council,” Dinnsen said. “It’s real important that we have people come show support.”

This is just the first section of Pickens Duke plans to offer this program. Dinnsen will be back in town in December to offer the other section of Pickens the program.

At the end of the program, everyone who participated will be eligible to win a $500 gift card.


The public alert notification sirens around the Oconee Nuclear Station will be tested Wednesday, Oct. 14, at approximately 11:50 a.m.

The 65 sirens within 10 miles of the Oconee Nuclear Station will be tested for three-minutes to make sure each siren works properly. This full-cycle siren test is performed once each quarter in cooperation with emergency officials in Oconee and Pickens counties, who are responsible for sounding the sirens.

Hearing a siren does not mean to evacuate. In an emergency, sirens are sounded as a signal for residents to tune to a local radio or TV station that would carry an emergency alerting message. County officials use these stations to provide information to the public. If sirens are heard and residents are unsure if it is a test or an emergency, they should tune to their local radio or TV station.