Northwest NEWS

April 16, 2001


Power crisis is real so are solutions

by Rick Ravenscroft
   President, Chroma Lighting Supplies Inc.
   In the not-too-distant past, electrical costs did not rank so highly among the budgeting concerns of businesses and homes.
   That has all changed, with the advent of leaping energy prices and threatening supply uncertainty. The implications for the future now impact our economy and our environment - our quality of life.
   Given resistance to the costs (financial, environmental, etc.) of new power plants, conservation has moved to center stage.
   Fortunately, there is growing public awareness of this crisis. We are willing to conserve, but we also want to maintain our quality of life provided by electrical power.
   With conservation, we hope to delay (or avoid) building costing and (for many) objectionable new power plants. It is also less expensive to make wiser use of our existing power production capacity than to build new power plants.
   As a result, more homes and businesses are employing a new range of energy-efficient products and services to manage energy use and costs. Whether in lighting, heating, air-conditioning, or ventilation, investment in these new products is repaid in lower power costs.
   Further, as energy costs rise, this investment is repaid more rapidly.
   For businesses, utilities now offer grant-funding incentives to implement these energy-efficiency strategies.
   Many businesses in our area have taken advantage of this funding to replace existing systems and reduce power costs.
   Businesses can realize an additional benefit: employees and customers also enjoy the improved facility appearance provided by the new lighting systems.
   At home, simply replacing incandescent light bulbs with the new compact fluorescent lamps can save 70-85 percent of power usage.
   This efficiency more than pays for the cost of the lamps. Greater usage of these throughout the United States will make a great reduction in the demand placed on power providers.
   To that end, some utilities are now sending one of these to every household in their service territories to "prime the demand pump."
   Compact fluorescent lamps also last 10-15 times as long as typical incandescents. This combination of efficiency and lamp life, the utilities hope, will soon relegate the 100 watt incandescent light bulb to the Smithsonian Institution.
   In short, our power supply crisis is real. So are our solutions.
   Implementing power conservation where we can will lower our power bills and reduce demand.
   It will protect our economy. It will safeguard salmon recovery plans and avoid political conflicts over new power-generation options.