There is nothing more effective or efficient than a collective response. Recognizing the power of a united effort, 11 Michigan utility companies have joined together to offer an energy-efficiency assistance program to their respective rate payers.

In November, the utilities launched a collaborative, which they named “Efficiency United.” It will provide a variety of products and services to utility customers who want to make their homes and businesses more energy-efficient.

Facing a legislative mandate to develop optimization programs to meet certain energy-efficiency benchmarks, the utilities chose united action over a fragmented response. Each of the 11 utility companies in Efficiency United opted to participate in the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) energy-optimization program, rather than creating their own individual programs. MPSC has designated Michigan Community Action Agency Association (MCAAA) as the program’s plan administrator.

The program will provide such services as energy audits; rebates on energy-efficient appliances and equipment; a residential heating, ventilating and air conditioning rebate program; installation of energy-efficient measures for income-qualified subscribers; and other energy-saving measures and incentives. There are programs available to commercial, industrial and residential utility customers.

The participating utility companies are Alpena Power, Bayfield Electric Coop., Daggett Electric Department, Edison Sault Electric Co., Indiana Michigan Power, Xcel Energy, Upper Peninsula Power Co., WE Energies, Wisconsin Public Service Corp., Michigan Gas Utilities and SEMCO Energy Gas Co.

Efficiency United has launched some of the programs this year, with more scheduled to begin in 2010.