By BECKY GILLETTE
Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi has reduced its exterior lighting energy use by 80 percent by switching 563 fixtures to LED lights. That represents dropping from 866,589 kilowatt-hours per year to only 176,281 kilowatt hours per year of usage. The Palace also replaced interior lighting with LED, light emitting diode bulbs. Not only is the Palace Casino doing the right thing for the environment, but it will also considerably reduce energy costs in the long run.
“We have already seen the impact,” said Palace Casino General Manager Keith Crosby. “The esthetics side of it? The lighting is better. We did the inside and then the outside. The lighting utilization has improved. Lighting on tables, rooms, and outside areas is better, brighter and cleaner. It makes everything look better because it is more natural lighting. It is just upside, upside, upside. It looks better, is more energy efficient and costs less. There is some moral high ground we can dance on and feel good about. When you can hit a homerun like that, why not?
Crosby said a program offered by Mississippi Power Company helped estimate the cost savings, as well as provided a subsidy for the lighting fixtures.
“We had to replace fixtures that were only five years old that would have lasted another 15,” Crosby said. “That was where the subsidy came in because it will help us recover costs over three to five years. It is a real positive program.”
Crosby said the root of the program was federal incentives to get public utilities to stimulate businesses in the right direction when it comes to energy conservation.
“The power company had done this on heavy industrial sites like Chevron,” Crosby said. “My sales person with Mississippi Power said it was something we might want to take a look at. He said there was an annual fund available, and their goal was to use it up every year. He told me what it took to get involved in the process.”
Crosby said the advantage of working with the power company is that the project was guided by electrical engineers who had the expertise to recommend the best equipment, and also estimate how much the improvements would cost and how long it would take to get a payback.
“It was real easy to do the math and know this was a no brainer,” Crosby said. “Palace Casino Resort is committed to green practices such as recycling and energy conservation. The LED lighting project makes good business sense, but helping our local community and the entire planet by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is the biggest benefit.”
Ben Doughman, Mississippi Power energy efficiency team leader, said since the program was launched in January 2015, they’ve completed about 60 large business projects.
“Customers who are interested in learning more about the energy efficiency programs offered by Mississippi Power can visit our website at mississippipower.com/my-business, or call 855-693-8326,” Doughman said. “The Large Commercial and Industrial Business Program provides facility walkthroughs and energy audits for customers from a Mississippi Power energy expert. We are able to assist customers in identifying opportunities and analyzing associated costs and savings of equipment installation.”
While lighting upgrades have been the most common upgrades made so far, the company’s energy efficiency plan also includes lighting retrofit and controls, chillers, HVAC, HVAC controls, motor replacements, data center upgrades, compressed air upgrades and commercial kitchen upgrades. Mississippi Power has worked with casinos, hospitals, grocery stores and cities to upgrade their lighting.
Entergy Mississippi has been involved in similar incentive programs.
“We have had our Entergy Solutions energy-efficiency program in effect for nearly two years now, and it has been very successful, especially for our large commercial and industrial customers,” said Mara Hartmann, spokesperson for Entergy Mississippi.
The industrial materials company Axiall has electrical energy costs as their most significant operating expense, said Larry Foster, maintenance supervisor at the Gallman plant. “We are always looking for ways to reduce our operating costs, including through energy conservation,” Foster said.
In early 2015, Foster began looking into more efficient lighting for the warehouse, where metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs were losing light output as they got older and required frequent replacement. Light from these high-intensity discharge bulbs shines between yellow and red, making the color of objects in the warehouse appear dull and less natural. To dispose of used bulbs, the staff had to box and ship them to a professional disposal company. Plus, the bulbs gave off a tremendous amount of heat. Foster said given the heat generated through the production process, the plant was always warm and could get quite hot during the summer.
When an Entergy Solutions for Business account manager told Foster about the incentives offered by Entergy Mississippi to replace old bulbs with energy-saving LEDs, he worked with a local vendor to install some trial lighting. He installed six bulbs in one corner of the warehouse and saw that, although the bulbs had less wattage than the previous bulbs, they provided more light. This benefit, plus a five-year vendor warranty on the bulbs and Entergy Mississippi’s incentives, prompted Foster to convert the rest of the warehouse lighting.
“By reducing the capital needed to pull this project off, we were able to make it happen,” Foster said.
Currently the commercial, industrial and governmental portion of the energy conservation programs for Mississippi Power and Entergy Mississippi are inactive. Additional funding is expected to be approved by the Mississippi Public Service Commission by the end of the year.
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