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"Energy solutions brighten the future for Gates Furniture"

Gates Furniture in Grants Pass, Ore., found a combination of lighting efficiency improvements to save energy, and a solar electric system to produce power, was the right one-two punch to keep energy costs in check. And cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon helped make the investments possible.

Energy Trust of Oregon Press Release
Susan Jowaiszas

Lighting upgrade and solar electric system save energy and trim operating costs

GRANTS PASS, Ore — August 9, 2011 — In today’s economy, small businesses are doing everything they can to control operating costs. Gates Furniture in Grants Pass, Ore., found a combination of lighting efficiency improvements to save energy, and a solar electric system to produce power, was the right one-two punch to keep energy costs in check. And cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon helped make the investments possible.

Gates Furniture, a family-owned retailer of moderately-priced home furniture, has been serving the Grants Pass community for four generations. During the economic downturn, the slowdown in housing sales resulted in sluggish furniture sales. Owner Giff Gates understood that if he couldn’t increase sales, he had to find a way to decrease expenses. With 24,000 square feet of furniture showroom to illuminate, he looked first to energy-efficient lighting solutions to find savings.

He turned to his local electric utility, Pacific Power, and Energy Trust for help. After a test period showed that LED bulbs produced the best light quality for his needs while using less energy, Gates began a three-phase campaign to upgrade all 350 bulbs in the store. In phase one, he replaced 32, 60- and 90-watt halogen lamps in his bedroom suite gallery with 12-watt LED bulbs. The effect was so powerful he completed a second phase of 200 bulbs, and is now in the process of converting the remaining lighting throughout his showrooms.

According to Gates, the lighting upgrade not only saves energy and reduces operating expenses, but the improved light casts a more romantic glow over the furniture showrooms, enhancing the customer shopping experience. “Our furniture looks gorgeous and the cost savings have been fantastic,” said Gates. “Our former lights put off so much heat that we used more energy by turning on the air conditioning to cool down the store.”

For the first two phases, Energy Trust provided Gates Furniture with $4,188 in cash incentives for the energy-saving improvements, which are estimated to save approximately 60,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year or $5,300 in annual energy costs.

To complement the lighting project, Gates looked again to Energy Trust for help, this time to find ways to generate energy using renewable power. He installed a 15-kilowatt photovoltaic system that is expected to produce more than 17,600 kWh of solar electric energy per year. Energy Trust provided the retailer with $15,180 in cash incentives toward the total installation cost of $74,790. Gates Furniture also received a grant for the system from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program.

“I couldn’t have done either of these projects without the incentives, but I’m pleased that a good business decision also makes good social sense,” explained Gates. “I know this expenditure helps me reduce the cost of business in the long-run. If I want the store to make it to 100 years, it is a worthwhile investment.”

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and tapping renewable resources. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save nearly $800 million on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878.

 
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