Let there be better light | SierraSun.com

Let there be better light

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/ Sierra SunA California legislator and the Truckee Donner Public Utility District want you to change your light bulbs.

Change light bulbs, save money. It’s that simple.

In a conservation effort by the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, nearly 600 incandescent light bulbs were switched out for compact fluorescent light bulbs in the Truckee Donner Senior Apartments since. The result is an annual cost savings of nearly $6,100 since 2002″ no small change for a fixed-income population.

Decrying the inefficiency of standard lighting, a Democratic Assemblyman from Los Angeles wants California to become the first state to ban the common light bulb ” by 2012.

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine says compact fluorescent light bulbs are so efficient that consumers should be forced to use them.

“Incandescent light bulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications,” said Levine, who represents Sherman Oaks. “It’s time to take a step forward.”

Levine is known for his environmental bent. Last year, he authored legislation to require large supermarkets to recycle plastic bags. Schwarzenegger signed that bill but has not yet taken a position on the light bulb bill.

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But Levine isn’t the only one who’s seen the light.

Scott Terrell, planning director for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, said if he could make one wish that would produce more efficient local communities, it would be to change out all incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent bulbs or another technology.

“The number-one thing on my hit-list is getting rid of incandescent light bulbs,” he said. “They’re like little heaters that produce very little light for the energy required to run them. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of the energy used to run an (incandescent) bulb is wasted on heat output.”

Terrell’s not messing around. Since 2002, he and a number of energy experts managed to retrofit the lighting at nearly every special district office and school in Truckee, and at all the public facilities in Tahoe Donner.

He’ll take his conservation efforts a big step forward later this month when he presents the utility district board with what he calls “the most comprehensive and aggressive conservation program ” period.”

Conservation programs in the Truckee and North Tahoe area have generally seen success, but getting consumers to make the bulb switch isn’t always easy, according to Ryan Osterlund, electrical department head at Ace Mountain Hardware in Truckee.

“There is quite a bit of difference in cost, but the idea behind the compact fluorescents is that you save so much money in the long run,” Osterlund said.

At Mountain Hardware, a 4-pack of incandescent light bulbs costs about $2, but comparable fluorescent bulbs can run nearly $6 a piece.

“We definitely push [fluorescents] as much as possible, and we try to put them on sale as often as we can, too,” Osterlund said.