A Million Great Ideas in San Antonio
Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble (Dec/Jan 10)

One can just imagine a light bulb appearing over the head of a public power utility official in San Antonio, just like in cartoons when a character has a great idea. In this case, the bulb would be a compact fluorescent (CFL), because the great idea was to persuade customers to trade in their incandescent bulbs for energy-saving CFL bulbs.

It was called the Million Bulb Challenge, and the utility provided rebates to reduce the cost of the bulbs, which are more expensive initially but last longer and use much less energy. Within 10 months, customers had cashed in and traded nearly 1.5 million bulbs.

The program is a great example of the big things that can happen when a lot of people each take a small step. Collectively, the bulb exchange has saved more than 3.9 megawatts of electricity, enough to power some 2,200 San Antonio homes. That's 3.9 megawatts the utility doesn't have to generate, and even at the low electricity rates in San Antonio, it adds up to a lot of money saved by customers on their power bills.