Direct Energy (DE) presented an informative project program during Tuesday night's Stephenville City Council work session.

Company executive Rodney G. Thornton said, “Direct Energy is the third largest energy company in Texas. We help people understand usage and recommend improvements.”

Direct Energy services more than 5 million residential and commercial customers with a choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. The company provides competitive energy operations in Texas, the northeastern United States, and across Canada.

Many of DE's customers say they are beginning to conserve energy in small, simple ways and have already installed programmable thermostats, a low flow showerhead, and compact florescent light bulbs.

With the upcoming change of seasons, all homeowners should consider conserving energy costs. However, when an entire city is concerned, everything is accomplished on a much grander scale.

People are being encouraged to “think green” this year.

Regarding an environmentally friendly building for a city, Thornton said, “Having a goal of measurably impacting building performance and operating costs, the city is ensuring that ‘green buildings' are sustainable, ecologically friendly, and efficiently use all natural resources, including electricity, gas, oil, and water.”

He said the world is changing.

“If we all practice the little things, it will make a huge impact on our natural resources and make the world a much better place,” Thornton said.

Now, the council is considering the project introduced by DE. The cost of the project is nearly $145,000 with total annual benefits of $34,262. The annual utility savings projected are $30,895, and annual operations and management savings of $3,367. The simple payback would be 4.2 years.

Direct Energy's services include government team insight, diverse energy expertise, and proven experience and results. Currently there are 140 Texas government customers.

According to Thornton, the city's benefits, if the project package is accepted, would be the least possible risk, an attractive return on its investment, and $1.80 avg./citizen saved.

The Texas Emission Reduction Plan (SB 12) mandates a five-percent electric consumption reduction annually over the next six years. Thornton said his company proposes a 16-percent electricity reduction. At the same time, Texas HB 3696 mandates public agencies to implement all economically feasible efficiency improvements. Agencies are to address lighting and vending machine requirements, and the DE project provides the technology.

The Project Scope is to upgrade city facilities' lighting with new ballasts and energy efficient bulbs. Vending machine management will be put into place. After a programmed time of nonuse, the vending machine will enter a sleep mode. When the next coin is inserted, it will instantly return to the working mode, thus saving even small portions of energy. The computer power management will be in a central location, and specialized computer software will manage the system.

The environmental impact is impressive. By reducing consumption by 271,968 kWh, there will be a reduction of 397,073 pounds of CO2 emission into the air. This annual reduction in emission is equal to 35 average sized vehicles removed from the road, 673,006 miles not driven, and 4,963-75 watt bulbs not energized. It is also equal to 17 homes removed from the power grid, 49 acres of trees planted, and 185,548 pounds of coal not burned.

Direct Energy's vice president of services, David Dollihite, said, “Every step towards reducing energy consumption, even small ones, can have an impact on a business' bottom line. It's about finding an energy partner-a company that can help you take care of your energy needs from both the supply and demand side.”

SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at sherry.boardman@empiretribune.com or 254-965-3124, ext. 229.