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Leading the Transition to Clean Energy

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In 1990 the voters of Burlington, Vermont authorized the Burlington Electric Department (BED) to issue an $11 million bond to invest in energy efficiency. Many voters took the opportunity to make it clear that they favored energy efficiency over the prospect of buying additional increments of Hydro-Quebec's James Bay power, another element in the resource plan.

As part of its overall efficiency initiative BED staff opted to employ a lightbulb leasing mechanism that had been pioneered at Taunton, Mass. Municipal Lighting Plant. There, Joe Desmond had a rather elegant idea. By leasing customers compact fluorescent lamps wouldn't it be possible for a utility to offer positive cash flow for customers (where bill savings were greater than lease payments), while at the same time providing savings for the utility at low cost? The "Smartlight" program has been refined in Burlington and is the largest program of its kind in the country.

In the first fifteen months of the program BED had distributed almost 25,000 bulbs to over five thousand residential customers. After 20 months BED had installed 26,602 bulbs, averaging 3.4 lamps per customer, for estimated savings of 1,300 MWh/year. Burlington Electric, with a total of 33,647 energy-efficient lamps distributed in the community, is now in the process of extending leasing to commercial lighting.

BED's Smartlight Program also was able to effectively use college students on summer vacation to educate sustomers about energy efficiency and the leasing mechanism, and to install the lamps in appropriate applications. Selct students were retained during the school year to perform installations.

One of the interesting lessons learned from Burlington's Smartlight program is that the lease payments themselves have been a relatively insignificant aspect of the program. BED program managers feel that the point is the education of their customers, and their commitment to have the lamps only in cost effective sockets. The profile concludes with a discussion of the relative merits of the leasing concept versus direct installation programs for residential lighting.

BED provides a fascinating case study of an innovative, positive cash flow, DSM implementation strategy. Costs of the program are somewhat elusive, as lamps placed today have a net present value in terms of lease payments. This, however, is offset in part by attrition rates of the lamps. Finally, the savings data is complicated by the fact that a certain percentage of installed lamps maintain active leases, while another subset are likely in service but their leases have been broken.


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IIEC Profile

Our Vision & Values

Our Vision & Values

Our vision is to accelerate the promotion of sustainable energy and environmental programs in developing countries and countries in transition.  Our unique values are strived to provide sustainable solutions with proven technical capabilities, implement with wealth of practical and international experience in Asia and Pacific regions. Read more...

Our Niche & Strengths

Our Niche & Strengths

IIEC works on-the-ground, through multi-disciplined staff and partners, with governments and the private sector to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and projects.  Read more...

Our Capabilities

Our Capabilities

Specific services provided by IIEC to its clients include: DSM/EE Implementation & Evaluation; Development & Implementation of EE Standards and Labeling Programs; Renewable Energy Project Planning & Implementation; Clean Energy Finance Design; and Implementation of Energy Efficient Buildings  Read more...

Our Major Clients

Our Major Clients

IIEC’s major clients include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) etc.  Read more...

Our Offices


IIEC operates through its offices in India, Thailand and Philippines.  Read more...

Our Team

Our Team

IIEC has full time local staff in each of its offices that are well placed to contribute to programs due to their extensive exposure to energy, transport and environmental activities in the region and their understanding of cultural issues relevant to the countries.  Read more...

Our Board

Board of Directors

IIEC’s Board of Directors is comprised of nine members, who are dedicated to providing strategic guidance to the organization as it advances its goal to promote sustainable and efficient energy use in developing nations and economies in transition.  Read more...


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