Food pantries, shelters in Southern West Virginia distributing c - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Food pantries, shelters in Southern West Virginia distributing compact fluorescent bulbs to families in need

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Food pantries and shelters in nine southern West Virginia counties will be distributing compact fluorescent light bulbs to 10,000 low income families.

The Energy Star certified CFL bulbs were made available through Appalachian Power's energy efficiency initiatives and the company's partnership with Mountaineer Food Bank. They're being distributed in packages of four bulbs to help those facing economic hardships reduce their energy costs and free up limited resources for other necessities.

“At Appalachian Power, we recognize that electric costs can be difficult for some of our customers to pay,” said Charles Patton, Appalachian Power president and COO. “Installing CFLs is an easy way to help lower energy use. CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and can save about $50 or more in electricity costs over the course of a bulb's lifetime. That's significant when dollars are tight, and it's why we are proud to be able to help our customers to control usage in their homes.”

Food pantries and shelters in Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Raleigh, Roane and Summers counties are participating.

“So many people are in need,” said the Rev. Dewey Lowe, pastor of Breckenridge Missionary Baptist Church at Bolt and a volunteer with Helping Hands in Raleigh County. “We serve all of Raleigh County and usually serve in the neighborhood of 1,000 a month. There seems to be a whole lot more need now then there ever has been, and I do believe these bulbs will help a lot of people.”

The light bulb distribution is part of Appalachian Power's Efficient Products Program, offering customers discounted CFLs through participating retailers to help people reduce energy use, save money and protect the environment. Low-income residential customers also are eligible for weatherization upgrades through the West Virginia energy assistance program managed by the West Virginia Office of Economic Opportunity. Customers can locate their local Community Action Agency for help by visiting www.oeo.wv.gov.

“Sometimes, we forget that those struggling with food needs also struggle with all basic needs including household items,” said Carla Nardella, executive director of Mountaineer Food Bank. “This gift will reach thousands of people in West Virginia, and give them a little hope for a better tomorrow.”

Since 2011, Appalachian Power has helped customers reduce power usage by 99 gigawatt hours, saving about $8 million. Appalachian Power offers a variety of energy efficiency programs and discounts to help residential and business customers reduce energy costs, including a free in-home energy review valued at $250. Some customers also may qualify for rebates if they install insulation, upgrade their heat pump to a more efficient system, or make other qualifying improvements.