Aspen lights up with new bulbs |

Aspen lights up with new bulbs

Abigail Eagye
Jacob O'Connor, 17, and Robert Codd, 16, give bulbs to a P E 101 employee as a part of their ecology, literature and resource efficiency class at Aspen High School. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Fluorescent light bulbs have finally caught up with the times.As part of a citywide effort to reduce energy consumption, Aspen’s water department is giving away five new compact fluorescent light bulbs to customers on Aspen’s electrical grid.”We wanted to do energy-efficient programs that we could put on the ground that people could actually use,” said Jeff Rice, utilities conservation analyst with the water department.One of the aims of Aspen’s Canary Initiative is to combat global climate change, but Rice said the comprehensive plan can sometimes be “above people’s heads.”The goal of the bulb giveaway is to engage individuals directly in a way that has a cumulative effect.

The water department has assembled 2,700 bags of five bulbs for delivery. Each bulb will last four to 10 times longer than its equivalent incandescent bulb.If all five bulbs in all 2,700 packages are used, the potential offset in carbon dioxide emissions is 255 tons per year. That would be equivalent to taking 41 Basalt-to-Aspen commuters off the road in one year.The city’s electrical grid is already powered by roughly 75 percent renewable energy. Rice said about 50 percent comes from hydroelectric sources, about 25 percent from wind, and “a touch” comes from solar.Rice was canvassing the city this week with several Aspen High School students who signed on to deliver the bulbs as part of their ecology, literature and recourse efficiency class. Jacob O’Connor, Robert Codd, Robert Oppenheimer, Barton Tofany and Dylan Rayburn all pitched in to help.”I just thought it would be a neat thing to do to help out the community,” Codd said. “I think it should make a big impact if everyone uses them.”

Andy Callaway, an employee at Paradise Bakery, and Joey Johnson, a bartender at Cooper Street Pier, also thought the city’s efforts were laudable, although they hadn’t heard about the program and were a little confused when the high school students walked in and gave each a bag of light bulbs.Meanwhile, at City Hall, Rice’s crews dropped off supplies for Aspen’s City Council members and several department heads, all of whom had to sign off on the plan.The city is phasing in CFLs on an as-necessary basis at City Hall, and it has also removed some of the older fluorescent tubes without replacing them to save energy.If you haven’t received your light bulbs yet, Rice said, there’s no need to hunt them down or to bother other city departments with phone calls.”If you get your electric bill from the city of Aspen, we’re coming to you,” he said.

Rice and his teams will deliver bulbs to all the city’s customers. They’ll leave door hangers for customers who aren’t home when they stop by, and those customers either can call to set up later delivery or find out where to exchange the door hanger for their bulbs.If you get your electricity from Holy Cross, you’re not on the list to receive the free bulbs, but Rice encouraged people to call that company to see if it has any similar offerings. He also reminded people that they can buy the CFLs themselves at hardware stores.The total cost to buy and distribute the bulbs is $80,000, but Rice reported that if all the bulbs in all the 2,700 bags are used, “the savings in electric bill dollars to our customers will be $417,150″ over the life of the bulbs. That translates to about $155 per customer over the same time period, or roughly $20 per year per customer.”The light bulbs will almost pay for themselves in the first year,” Rice said.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is