CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston Civic Center spent nearly $69,000 on its electricity usage in July 2012, but center officials look forward to better budgeted bills after replacing hundreds of lights with energy-efficient equivalents.
Jim Smith, assistant manager of the center, said savings so far have been remarkable since it replaced 1,441 T12 florescent tubes with light-emitting diode (LED) tubes.
"The savings on it is tremendous as far as energy consumption," Smith said. "It's awesome."
The Civic Center is one of 428 businesses that have received energy-efficient lighting rebates through Appalachian Power's Commercial and Industrial Prescriptive Programs, which are designed to promote the use of high-efficient lighting, among other goals.
Since the Civic Center joined the program when it began in April 2011, it has received more than $31,000 back in rebates from Apco, said Ed Outlaw, technical resource manager for Apco's GoodCents program.
The facility has saved more than 273,000 kilowatt-hours since it started the program. That's equal to the annual usage of nearly 24 homes, said Jim Fawcett, manager of energy efficiency and consumer programs for Apco.
The power company has distributed more than $1.2 million in rebates to businesses through the C&I Programs, Fawcett said.
More than 41.5 million kilowatt-hours -- equivalent to the annual usage of 3,611 homes -- have been saved by all businesses that participate in the C&I Programs, Fawcett said.
Commercial lighting accounts for more than 20 percent of total commercial building energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
"Businesses are much more savvy to this than residents because they look at everything on cost-to-payback," Fawcett said. "They're in the business to make money so if the Civic Center, for instance, can install these lights and save enough money in a year and a half to pay for the project, then they're putting that money in their pocket."
The center saw a total return on its investment in a little more than a year when it switched the 1,441 T12 fluorescent tubes with LED tubes, Smith said.
Of the $88,000 the Civic Center spent on the new lighting, Apco paid a rebate of $21,000, he said.
Smith said the rebate the Civic Center received after swapping more than 60 of its exit signs' fluorescent tubes with LED lights cost as much as the replacements.
"It's money we can reinvest into our capital improvement projects for in-house renovations," Smith said.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones announced last week plans to spend $45 million to $60 million in renovations to improve the Civic Center.
The renovations would include a new 20,000-square-foot ballroom, 5,000 square feet of additional meeting space, kitchen renovations, more restrooms and enhancements to the exterior's appearance. New lighting, sound systems and an energy-efficient, climate control heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system are also in the works.
Some of the new lighting and the energy-efficient HVAC system are being funded through the power company's rebate program.