DMEA Giving Consumers 100,000 Compact Fluorescent Lights

Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) announced at its annual meeting Friday, June 13, 2008, that the cooperative will give its membership 100,000 FREE compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by the end of the year, with most being distributed this summer. The ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs that DMEA plans to give its members reduce electricity used for lighting by 75 percent, compared to the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in most people's homes. DMEA will start mailing coupons redeemable for six free CFLs at a major retailer in DMEA's service territory to its more than 25,000 residential consumers later this month, as well as distributing the money saving lights at events and through other means.

"Our giving six free CFLs to all our residential members will help them manage rising energy costs," explained Dan McClendon, DMEA's general manager. "This program is also a sound investment for the co-op, too, as it will help DMEA reduce the amount of expensive peak power we need to purchase."

By reducing the amount of wholesale electricity DMEA has to buy during expensive "peak" periods, the CFLs could save DMEA more than the bulbs cost, paying for themselves in wholesale power savings in 1-2 years, according to DMEA's energy analysis.

Provided that the 100,000 CFL's are placed in sockets and replace incandescent bulbs normally "on" for the national average of 3.5 hours per day, DMEA estimates its membership will use 7.665 million kilowatt hours (kWhs) less than they would have with the inefficient lights.

Another perspective: DMEA expects that the CFLs' aggregate reduction on their system's energy demand could be as high as 6 megawatts--the output of a small power plant. For comparison, DMEA's peak system demand has been about 110 megawatts (MW) in winter, a time when efficient lighting should play an important role in clipping peak wholesale power costs. DMEA anticipates that its "first year" wholesale power cost savings could be $322,371.00 -- more than the CFL program is costing DMEA. From the consumer standpoint, each CFL should save $5-6 dollars a year. In aggregate, over the expected life of the long lasting CFLs, DMEA expects that its members could save over $4,000,000 on lighting costs.

"Money saved on energy bills will most likely be spent on other goods and services in our local economy, providing an important economic boost to our communities," McClendon noted.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, DMEA's wholesale power provider, is also supporting the switch to high efficiency lighting with education and financial incentives.

"We greatly appreciate the $1 per CFL rebate Tri-State is providing its member cooperatives," McClendon noted. "Energy efficient lighting is important for DMEA, the four states served by Tri-State, and the entire country."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if every American home replaced their five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with CFLs that have earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save close to $8 billion each year in energy costs, and together we would prevent the greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 10 million cars.

The environmental benefit of the 100,000 CFLs distributed to DMEA's members is estimated to be equivalent to preventing 38,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.

Nationally reknowned energy-efficiency expert Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy (http://www.ase.org), was the keynote speaker at DMEA's annual meeting and joined DMEA officials for the CFL giveaway announcement.

"Energy efficiency is America's greatest energy resource -- it's the quickest, cheapest, cleanest way to increase our nation's energy supplies," said Callahan. "I commend DMEA for brightening the road to a more energy efficient Colorado with this CFL program."

Callahan noted that the transformation from incandescent lights to compact fluorescent lights and other advanced lighting technologies will save consumers $13 billion each year in electric bills and eliminate the need for nearly 60 power plants.

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