Through Southwestern Electric Power Company’s (SWEPCO) commercial energy efficiency program, the historic Strand Theatre recently received $13,000 in incentives to switch to LED bulbs. The change will bring an estimated 20 percent savings to the theatre’s electric bills, based upon past usage and new savings as a result of the lighting upgrade.
“This project is meaningful to SWEPCO not only because it helps a valuable customer lower their bill; but, also because we are helping a historical building upgrade to a modern, energy efficient technology,” said Jeff Thigpen, SWEPCO energy efficiency and consumer program coordinator. “Our energy efficiency programs are designed to help both residential and commercial customers lower their energy bills.”
Cumulatively, the Strand Theatre project replaced nearly 2,000 bulbs within the facility’s offices, auditorium, dressing rooms, lobby, foyer, storage rooms, box office and more. Just over 500 bulbs were replaced on the iconic marquee and another 99 on the 14-foot grand chandelier, which hangs above the theatre’s 2,500 seats.
Both the marquee and chandelier pose difficult challenges when changing bulbs: the marquee requires a lift for access, and the chandelier must be cranked down from the ceiling – by hand – from a small crawl space. Because the new LED bulbs have a longer life than traditional bulbs, Strand Theatre staff will reduce the amount of labor and time required to change bulbs within the facility.
“To change the lights in the proscenium and the oval, you have to crawl underneath the walkways and reach your arm through a 4-by-6 hole. So, it is a challenge to replace these light bulbs,” said David ‘Boudreaux’ Fusilier, the Strand’s Jack-Of-All-Trades, responsible for building maintenance. “Also, some of these light fixtures are very delicate. There’s not anybody to fix them, and you can’t call someone to replace them because they’re irreplaceable. With the LED bulbs, I should not have to change a bulb for another five to ten years, hopefully! That’s good, because I’m getting a little old to crawl around and reach into some of these places.”
“Anything we can do to reduce cost and maintenance is valuable since our building dates back to 1925,” said Jenifer Hill, executive director for the Strand Theatre. “The energy efficiency program from SWEPCO is incredibly helpful for non-profits like ours.”