PLATTSBURGH — Conserving energy can save money and help the environment at the same time.

City of Plattsburgh Municipal Lighting Department Superintendent Jack Brown outlined ways people can conserve electricity during a recent presentation before about 50 people at St. Peter’s Church.

USE POWER WISELY

The Municipal Lighting Department was formed by former Mayor Leander Bouyea and established in 1941.

“I think that was one of the best things that ever happened to the City of Plattsburgh,” Brown said.

MLD mainly uses hydropower from the New York State Power Authority.

Because the city has relatively low electric rates — about 4 to 4.5 cents per kilowatt for residential users — many people may not be as concerned about conservation as they should.

“We need to use this hydropower we’re getting wisely,” Brown said.

Part of the 2003 agreement extension with the Power Authority requires the MLD to aggressively explore conservation measures.

Brown said the department started its own conservation program under the Independent Energy Efficiency Program about 10 years ago. Some of the money collected from the sale of electricity to MLD customers is used for city projects.

“All of the funds collected in Plattsburgh are used in Plattsburgh,” Brown said.

ENERGY-SAVING BULBS

One project has resulted in the distribution of 17,000 to 20,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs. Brown brought 100 of the bulbs to pass out to the audience.

Those bulbs use significantly less electricity to produce the same amount of light, Brown said. For example, a 23-watt compact fluorescent produces the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb, he said.

They were initially much more expensive than incandescent bulbs but are now available in some places for under $2, Brown said.

They also last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.

APPLIANCE REBATE

Another popular project is the Plattsburgh Appliance Advantage. MLD customers who buy an Energy Star-labeled appliance are eligible for rebates on each piece of equipment from $10 to $125, depending on the type of appliance.

“This has been an excellent program. People have responded very well to that,” Brown said. “We’ve given out about 60,000 rebates.”

TRAFFIC LIGHTS

MLD is also exploring ways to save power throughout the city. He said the department has replaced most of the incandescent traffic lights in the city with traffic signals made with arrays of light-emitting diodes.

The old bulbs used 250 to 300 kilowatt hours of electricity a month, while the new ones use about 30 kilowatt hours per month.

The old bulbs had to be changed about every year, while the new ones can last seven to 10 years, Brown said.

SAVINGS IN PERU

Peru Central School Superintendent A. Paul Scott, who was in the audience, said that while he doesn’t live in the city, it was encouraging to hear about ways people can make a difference.

“I’m pleased to hear there are a number of practical, cost-effective and relatively simple things you can do to reduce costs and electricity use with benefits that last into the future.”

He said Peru Central School has also taken a number of steps to conserve energy. The bus fleet has been tuned for better mileage, more efficient boilers have been installed, and better thermostats have improved temperature control.

“In many cases, being more mindful of the environment can be less expensive,” Scott said.

RECYCLING

The Rev. John Yonkovig of St. Peter’s Church noted this was the third in a series of presentations on global warming and energy conservation at the church.

He said being more economical with and concerned about the Earth’s resources is a moral issue.

“Even children are conscious of the issue,” Yonkovig said.

“I know there are other grassroots organizations in the area. We want to reach out to them to combine our energies, to bring about a greater consciousness of the issue.”

The next presentation will be about recycling and waste, he said, probably sometime in May.

E-mail Dan Heath at: dheath@pressrepublican.com

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