HANOVER TWP. – Three months ago, Frank Kowalski was paying more to power one streetlight outside his warehouse than he will now spend to light his entire parking lot.
Kowalski's company, Keyco Distributors Inc., is the first business to complete a new energy- efficiency rebate program from UGI Utilities Inc.
The commercial food distribution company replaced 120 lights at its 96,000-square-foot warehouse in the Hanover Industrial Estates with more efficient fluorescent and LED lights, and received a rebate of more than $45,000 from UGI to support the upgrades.
Kowalski said he hopes to make up the rest of the project's $118,000 construction cost in energy savings within a year. SmartWatt Energy Inc. of Moosic, the contractor that installed the lights, estimates the new lighting will save the company at least $38,000 per year, but Kowalski said that's a very conservative estimate that doesn't account for all factors.
The 44 high-pressure sodium lights in the warehouse freezer were "like little furnaces," producing heat that required additional refrigeration to counteract, he said as an example. The LED lights that replaced them produce no heat, and thereby make the freezer more efficient.
Kowalski said the lighting will help Keyco remain competitive and ultimately help keep prices stable for his customers.
"Lighting is a part of the cost of goods," he said.
Keyco is one of 21 companies that have initiated participating in UGI's three-year efficiency and conservation program since its launch June 1. The program is also open to residential UGI customers who: switch from electric to natural gas for home and water heating; install thermal water heaters; and replace old appliances with high-efficiency models. UGI spokesman Joseph Swope said 322 residential customers have participated in the program so far.
"UGI actually loses on these programs because we lose the sales," said Brian Fitzpatrick, Manager of Energy Efficiency Programs for UGI. "The benefit we get is from a customer relations perspective. Most of the research we've done says that customers are happier with utility companies that have this kind of program."