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San Antonio Small Businesses “Seeing the Light” with Energy Upgrades

March 21, 2012 - 2:27pm


If you were going to a new gallery showing of your favorite local artist, would you want to view the canvasses under dim lights? Or if you were reupholstering your favorite sofa, would you want to look at fabric samples under fluorescent lighting and risk mistaking indigo blue for charcoal black? 

Small businesses are a main economic driver in cities across the country -- and San Antonio is no different. Lighting may seem like a small detail, but as more than 800 small businesses in San Antonio have discovered, having the right lighting can improve business and conserve energy. With over 40 percent of a company’s energy consumption coming from interior lighting, upgrading to more efficient lighting can dramatically reduce a company’s energy consumption and lower utility bills.

As part of San Antonio’s “Mission Verde” initiative, the city launched the City Lights Small Business Lighting Retrofit Program using Recovery Act funding through the Energy Department’s EECBG program. The City Lights program is helping business owners increase their lighting efficiency, reduce energy use and lower electricity bills.

In the first 10 months of City Lights, participating small business saved an estimated 4.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. Beyond these savings, the program trained and employed local energy audit experts and electrical contractors who helped businesses identify potential energy and cost saving measures. 

The program worked in cooperation with the municipally owned local utility, CPS Energy, as well as the energy-efficiency program management company EnerPath, which helped the city oversee the program.  

City Lights has not only lowered utility bills, but the city has also received positive feedback from owners and staff of the participating businesses as well as their patrons.

Richard Sanchez, co-owner of A.J’s Fresh Line Up barbershop, offered his views on his shop’s new lighting upgrades, which only cost the business approximately $20 after the program’s incentives were included.

“You can’t give a good haircut in bad lighting. We are already seeing our bills drop and it’s much brighter than it was before,” said Sanchez. 

Like Richard Sanchez, the 847 other businesses owners participating in the program are leading the way for San Antonio to become a sustainable community leader in the 21st century.