Electric Cooperative Gets New, Energy-Efficient Lighting

La Plata Electric Association, with offices in Pagosa Springs and Durango, works with members — both residential and commercial — to change out their lighting to new, energy efficient lamps. The cost to purchase new lighting all at once can be cost prohibitive, so the electric cooperative has been prudent with its members’ money as it too worked to change out lighting in all of its buildings.

Ray Pierotti celebrates the appearance of “daylight” in LPEA’s warehouse.

“This has been a steady process beginning in 2010,” says Ray Pierotti, LPEA’s project specialist who focuses on lighting technology. “We’ve got a number of buildings and different lighting applications, such as parking lot and exterior lights, in addition to regular office lighting. I’ve been keeping up with the technology and, as it made sense from a technology and budgeting perspective, we initiated the projects.”

LPEA’s administrative offices were steadily replaced and are now 100 percent LED. With the office light retrofits, energy-saving controls were also installed, including dimmers and motion sensors. Work lighting for office employees is greatly improved even with the energy savings.

Pierotti is perhaps most excited about the projects that replaced the lighting in the warehouses. Previously dimly lit with old technology, the warehouses now appear to be illuminated by daylight. “The difference is just amazing,” Pierotti says.

The total reduction in kilowatts with all the office space, warehouses, truck barns, exterior and other lights changed out is nearing a combined 100 kilowatts, which, according to Pierotti, saves the cooperative more than 260,000 kilowatt-hours in both locations and more than $30,000 annually going forward.

Just like all of LPEA’s commercial members who opt to change out their lighting and reduce their energy consumption, LPEA benefitted from rebates provided by its wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Tri-State benefits by encouraging members to reduce energy consumption so the company doesn’t need to build additional generation facilities.