Changing bulbs at Lithia Springs High School in Lithia, Georgia.
By Michael Kahn | Excerpted from an article on ECT.coop.
It was 25 degrees outside in Lithia, Georgia, and the remnants of a snowstorm had turned to ice on the roads. But that wasn’t enough to deter a group of volunteers from leaving their warm Atlanta hotels and nearby homes to come to this suburb 18 miles west, where they spent their Saturday hard at work.
Nearly 90 folks ventured to Lithia Springs High School, Feb. 13, for this year’s Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives service project preceding the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) 2010 Annual Meeting. The mission was to turn the school equivalent of a gas guzzler into a Prius.
“The focus is on energy efficiency,” said Mike Sims, general manager of Butler REC, Oxford, Ohio, and president of the Touchstone Energy board.
And a great way to start was with changing out the light bulbs—thousands of light bulbs.
Dennis Young, a director from Hawkeye REC, Cresco, Iowa, was climbing up and down a ladder, swapping old inefficient fluorescents for new ones. He said it made a “nice change” from his usual job as a rural mail carrier.
Those old bulbs weren’t just thrown in the trash. Instead, they were hauled outside by the box load and fed into the “Bulb Eater.” Mounted atop a 55-gallon container, the device crushes the bulbs for recycling, while capturing almost all of the vapors released.
By lunchtime some 1,300 bulbs had made it through the Bulb Eater, much to the amazement of Alan Shedd, Touchstone Energy director of C&I Business Development. A day earlier, he helped move seven truckloads of supplies from Greystone Power Corp., Douglasville, Ga., which serves the school.
“I thought, ‘How are we going to do it in a week, let alone a day?’” Shedd said. “But you did most of it before lunch,” he told the group as they enjoyed barbecue provided by Planters EMC, Millen, Ga.
“This has been a blessing for us,” said Dan Rodenberry, facility maintenance supervisor for the Douglas County, Ga., Schools. “We have 33 schools and there are just not enough of us.”
The 1,800 students of Lithia Springs High School would return from their weekend to find their school a better place. And while they weren’t there to express their gratitude, Rodenberry was.
“Thank you,” he told the volunteers, “each and every one of you.”