Energy efficient cities saving you money

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR is always tracking the use of your tax dollars and we learned of ways the cities have saved just keeping the lights on.

Marissa Venegas visits the Richland Library several times a week.

"I come to the library to do homework, do some research for school and that sort of thing," she says.

The Richland Library is one of the sources of energy-efficiency in the city. When taxpayers agreed to raise taxes to remodel the library -- it included an overhaul of the lighting and H-VAC system.
Utility bills for the library aren't higher despite the library being 40-percent larger.

"Being green for us isn't just being green for green's sake. It's about saving money and prolonging the life of the city's equipment," says Richland's Parks and Recreation Manager Joe Shiessl.

Kennewick is looking to take similar measures. It already upgraded street lights to save the city 200,000 a year. And now Kennewick is focusing on indoor lighting. Energy-efficient upgrades will save 34-thousand in taxpayer money every year. The initial upfront cost is more than a quarter-million.

"It makes me feel good knowing that we're saving money, but at the same time, placing it in a positive environment," Marissa says.

Updates will come to 20-buildings including a huge energy guzzler -- the Toyota Center. Between that and city council chambers -- it will account for more than 16-grand in savings each year alone.

It's these kind of changes that help the cities spend the citizen's money wisely.

"I'm a taxpayer, too. I like to see my tax dollars go just as far they can and that's what we do every day," Shiessl added.

Officials say Kennewick's lighting project will pay for itself over the next eight-years.

Pasco also has participated in energy efficient projects city-wide including lighting at city hall.