Monday, July 26, 2010

Con Ed Helping Out Small Businesses With Energy Efficiency Program

Small businesses may not know that there is a way to reduce the cost of their energy bills, surely higher now given this summer's unusually high temperatures. Con Edison has teamed up with energy consultants Willdan Energy Solutions to help small businesses facing these steep bills through the Con Edison Small Business Energy Efficiency Program.

“It’s a great program for small business owners,” said program manager at Con Edison Esteban Vasquez. “It gives them the opportunity to reduce their energy bill.”

Small businesses that enroll in the program get a free energy survey that will show eligible small businesses — which range “from medical offices to bodegas,” said Vasquez — where they can save money and energy. Con Ed will then provide free upgrades, such as compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), and then pay 70 percent of installation costs for additional energy improvements, implemented by Willdan.

For the businesses they have in the program (1,700 in Brooklyn), the changes they recommend have been related to lighting and refrigeration. In many cases they have replaced exit signs with LED exit signs, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in energy usage.

Introduced in August of 2009, the program has had some difficulty getting off the ground, said Vasquez. Though Con Ed pays for 70 percent of the installation, “some people are a little skeptical… it comes off to be a little too good to be true.” So Con Ed has been working lately to increase outreach, visiting local business improvement districts, expos and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “We’re talking to as many people as we can.”

One of the Brooklyn small businesses in the program is MISS Sportswear, a clothing importer and manufacturer in Gowanus.  After their free survey, MISS Sportswear received five free CFLs, and decided to go ahead with Con Ed’s recommendations. Willdan than installed 303 energy-efficient T8 fluorescent tubes throughout their facility.

The total cost of the project was $18,785. Since Con Ed covered 70 percent of the installation cost, MISS Sportswear paid only $5,635. In less than five months, the project paid for itself with cost savings. Annually, MISS Sportswear will save an estimated $13,960 on their energy bill and over 93,080 kWh.

“To successfully run a store such as ours, lowering our utility costs is crucial to excel during a tough economic time,” said Mory Fallas, owner of MISS Sportswear. “The Con Edison Small Business Energy Efficiency Program gave us the kick start we needed.”

Children’s apparel store Kid City in the Georgetown Shopping Center in Flatlands is another participant in the program. In addition to the free survey, the store received 24 free CFLs and 175 energy-efficient T8 tubes were installed over the main sales floor and in the basement. The total installed cost was about $11,700, with Kid City paying $3,500 for the whole upgrade. The store will save an estimated 76,000 kWh each year, which represents about $11,500.

“I’m very happy,” said store manager Solomon Torguman. “I was so pleased that I recommended the program to 20 other Kid City stores in the New York and New Jersey area.”

So what’s in it for Con Edison? “Con Edison is participating in the state’s initiative to reduce energy usage,” said Vasquez. “It’s a good idea. Small business owners are a big part of everyday life.

“The great thing about this is that they’re saving money on their energy bill. Now they have the extra cash,” he continued. “There’s more than one benefit. They’re not going to save money in just one month, it’s a permanent reduction.”

To get involved in the Small Business Energy Efficiency Program, call (888) 945-5326.

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