Free Trees Could Lower Fees
Columbia Resident Susan Normen said her utility bills fluctuate from season to season, but because of her new tree she knows in a few years high summer electricity bills will be in the past.
"We went to the city and they had this program called 'Tree Power' that provides shade trees for the house, hoping to reduce your utility bills," Normen said.
The City of Columbia works with a local garden center to encourage energy efficient landscaping.
"Somebody comes out and audits the home and says 'yes, this will be a perfect place for a shade tree,' and they give the customer a coupon and then the customer comes in here with the coupon and we give them the tree," Superior Garden Center manager Liz Graznak said.
The city reimburses the company for the trees and in a few years the sapling trees will provide shade for residents' homes. That, in turn, should drive down electricity costs.
"It's great for the environment and it does really help as far as reducing people's cooling bills," communications specialist Connie Kacprowicz said.
The Tree Power program has given about 250 trees a year to Columbia residents since 1992 and cut their utility bills by an estimated 30 percent.
Columbia electric customers can sign up for a free tree online (see related links) or by calling (573) 874-7325.
Reported by Crystal Hilliard