All across the country this week more than 2,000 community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities, that collectively provide electricity to 48 million Americans, celebrated National Public Power Week. Here in Susanville our power company is Lassen Municipal Utility District, created by voters in 1986 and covering nearly 2,000 square miles of service territory.
Along with normal day-to-day operations the utility maintains a special program to connect with the community through project assistance, education and partnerships. The Public Benefits program was designed to ‘give back’ a percentage of utility’s retail energy sales directly to the community.
The money was used to help the Sunrise Rotary Club install energy efficient windows at Eagle Lake Ronald McDonald house, energy efficient lighting for the Lassen County Fairgrounds, the Chamber’s LED Community Christmas Tree and the solar powered traffic signs that you see near the schools throughout the county.
“Public Benefits is mandated by the state of California,” explains Energy Services Manager Theresa Phillips. “Money is collected through our rates, 2.85% of our total retail energy sales (about $550,000 per year) is set aside to create programs that meet at least one of four criteria, demand-side management and customer education (energy efficiency), investment into renewable resources (solar), research and development into emerging technologies, and low-income assistance.”
When Lassen High Football Boosters and Susanville Auto Center Managing Partner Chad Nethery purchased a new scoreboard for the high school’s football field LMUD was able to help fund a portion of the cost through their Public Benefits program.
“The goal of the program is to promote energy efficiency throughout our community,” said Phillips, “and is geared toward non-profits and community agencies.”
Because the new scoreboard uses LED lighting as opposed to the incandescent lighting of the old scoreboard, the football boosters were able to show that the new scoreboard would save a significant amount of electricity, resulting in a reduction of the cost to run the board.
In addition to funding a portion of the $38,000 project the LMUD line men spent a morning auguring holes to set the scoreboard’s support beam.
In August the Public Benefits program extended a helping hand to the Lassen Historical Society and the City of Susanville when they removed an obsolete power pole that had leaned up against Roop’s Fort on Weatherlow Street since the 1970’s.
“LMUD is proud to be able to contribute to community-minded projects that bring a variety of agencies together for the betterment of those we serve,” Phillips said.
If your organization has an energy efficiency project that you think might qualify for a Community Project grant, please contact Phillips at 257-4174.