Riverside Public Utilities Aims to Tame Energy Vampires

January 7, 2010 at 12:00 am

Computers left on overnight at work use up hundreds of kilowatt hours of electricity each year, which puts an unnecessary drain on the city’s electric supply and costs local businesses thousands of dollars in unneeded utility expenses. Riverside Public Utilities is starting a program that will help businesses eliminate this waste and save electricity.

 The program, approved by the City Council Tuesday, was developed by the utility in cooperation with SmartRiverside. The PC Power Management Software Rebate Program will reimburse non-residential customers within the city of Riverside for the cost of implementing power management software on personal computers in the workplace.

A personal computer uses 500-800 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, and much of that energy is wasted because almost half of all employees do not turn off their computers when they leave for the day. A computer left on after work continues to use electricity, even if the computer is not being actively used.

The power management software allows for central administration of power management settings on a system of networked personal computers. That means a business can ensure its computers are in a lower power status at times of the day or night when employees are likely not using their computers. The software reduces energy consumption by 20 to 60 percent, saving $25 to $60 per computer per year, reducing energy demand and increasing kilowatt hour savings.

Riverside Public Utilities expects its initial effort, using $250,000 in federal funds, will pay for the installation of the software on more than 16,000 computers, saving more than 2.5 million kWh and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 million tons. The program initially will be deployed on city-owned computers, but a second phase will reimburse businesses 100 percent of the cost of the software license, up to $15 per license, with a maximum rebate of $25,000 per business.

Once the federal funds are expended, the program will continue using Public Benefit Funds from the utility. If the software saves $25 per personal computer, the program would generate a savings of $400,000 each year – enough to save the jobs of 10 people making $40,000 per year.


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