How many customers does it take to try a new light bulb? | SierraSun.com

How many customers does it take to try a new light bulb?

Jamie Bate

Things have been pretty quiet in Truckee after all the hullabaloo over the recent coal-fired power contract.

But look outside our little part of the world and plenty is happening on the energy front. Democrats in the state Assembly are floating a proposal that would increase funding for alternative fuel programs by raising fees paid by owners of new vehicles.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown ” yes, that Jerry Brown ” is asking the six largest U.S. and Japanese automakers to settle a lawsuit in which the state seeks millions of dollars in damages caused by vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases.

And over in our neighboring state, the feds just held a bunch of meetings about a proposed coal-fired power plant near Ely, Nev. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s meetings came three months after Nevada’s two main electric utilities were given the go-ahead to develop the state’s largest power plant and 250 miles of power lines to connect it to Las Vegas. One of those companies in the $3.7 billion project is Reno-based Sierra Pacific Power Co. Sierra Pacific supplies electricity to customers all around the Lake Tahoe Basin and in portions of Truckee.

Whoa! That’s enough energy news to make one’s head light up ” and tune out. Considering all that is swirling on around us, and that our 50-year power contract is behind us, it feels like there isn’t much we can do.

Well, there is. Change your light bulbs.

The Sierra Sun recently reported that the Truckee Donner Public Utility District could reduce its power demand by 25 percent if all its customers switched to more efficient bulbs and practiced other conservation methods.

If you sat through the PUD meetings during the coal debate, that notion in itself should make the idea bulb above your head click on. Twenty-five percent, think about it. What could that do as far as reducing our base-load energy needs?

But how does all this translate to your humble home? Well, according to our local utilities, the average home has about 30 light fixtures. By replacing the five most frequently used light bulbs in your home with fluorescents, the average can save about $35 per year in energy costs. That’s just five to start.

That may sound like a small amount, but we have to start some place. And after looking at the news around us, it should be easy to think globally and act locally, like screwing in a few new-fangled lightbulbs.