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Christmas Drain on Idaho Power

by Dan Hamilton
KTRV, November 29, 2006

Conserving energy may not be the first thing you think about when it comes to the Christmas season, but some energy experts say it should top your list, that is before the holiday starts requiring too much electricity.

"One of the things that happens during the holidays is holiday lighting.  I mean after all, Clark Griswold is one of my heroes," said Dennis Lopez, Idaho Power spokesman, referencing  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

It's of course one of the many things that helps to make the holiday season bright every year -- Christmas lighting.

For workers at Idaho Power, they become a concern, adding to the draw on the power supply that increases by more than five percent every holiday season -- whether it be from outdoor lighting, shoppers racing for a little last minute shopping.

"It's darker longer -- there's more use for electricity for lighting for one thing.  Stores, they stay open much longer this time of year, and then we see some additional use just because people are home for vacations," said Lopez.

"That could be lights, it could be holiday parties, increased retail activity, even people baking," added Celeste Becia, Idaho Power conservation guru.

The increase represents an additional 75 megawatts of electricity, which is equivalent to the power generated at two of Idaho's many dams along the Snake River.

Specialists at Idaho Power say it's time to think about conservation, and one way is to replace the old fashioned outdoor lights with led's, much like those now installed around Idaho Power's headquarters in downtown Boise.

"They are energy efficient, they use 90% less energy than a standard incandescent lighting that you might have on the outside of your home," said Becia.

She suggests making some lifestyle changes too, at least during the holidays, which might include simply using some appliances at different times of the day.

"And we definitely want people to pay attention to doing loads of laundry all at one time, and all those kinds of things that can reduce energy use in winter time," Becia said.

She's hopeful that with a little pre-planning, Idahoans will be able to still enjoy the holidays, while preventing any serious power consequences in the future.

"If we can avoid putting up more power plants, or doing things like that, then that's good for everybody, and it keeps power costs low for all of us," she said.

Idaho Power officials say they have a lot of ideas when it comes to conserving energy, especially at this time of year. Many of them can be found on the company's website.

Dan Hamilton
Christmas Drain on Idaho Power
KTRV, November 29, 2006

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