High Efficiency Refrigerator Initiative to Save Energy and Dollars in Buffalo Municipal Housing

Connie Cullen
(914) 390-8196

Jack Murphy
(914) 390-8198

February 11, 2003


WHITE PLAINS—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has installed 900 new, energy-efficient refrigerators in apartments operated by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA), as part of a coordinated effort by state and local government to save energy and reduce power costs in public facilities.  The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) joined NYPA in the refrigerator replacement project for Buffalo.

“The installation of high-efficiency refrigerators in Buffalo’s municipal housing is a great example of state and local government working together to bring the benefit of energy-saving technologies to Western New York,” said Louis P. Ciminelli, chairman, New York Power Authority. “From removing antiquated coal-burning furnaces in several Buffalo public schools to installing a state-of-the-art energy management system in the Edward A. Rath County Office Building, NYPA has completed energy efficiency projects at fifty-seven public facilities in Erie and Niagara counties.”

“As the refrigerator is the largest user of electricity in a typical apartment, we are pleased to provide, with NYPA’s assistance, these new refrigerators that will annually save BMHA about $30,000 in our electric bills,” said Sharon West, director, Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

The new 15 cubic foot refrigerators, manufactured by General Electric, use about one-third the electricity consumed by older models.

In February 2002 the BMHA began polling residents in its 4,000 apartments to determine if residents would want to replace the refrigerators they currently owned.  If a BMHA resident chose to participate, they would agree that the new refrigerator would be owned by the BMHA.  New refrigerators were also installed in vacant apartments.  The first phase of 900 refrigerator installations began in December 2002.  Due to continuing interest, a second phase of the program will begin in early spring 2003 and is expected to be completed by year-end depending on the number of refrigerators requested.

The BMHA learned about NYPA’s pioneering program to replace refrigerators in public housing through the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).  NYPA provides the feasibility study, financing, purchase and installation of the new refrigerators, and removal of the old units.  Appropriate parts from the older units are recycled.

NYPA and DHCR are developing an initiative to reduce electricity costs, with high-efficiency refrigerators and other energy-saving measures, for other municipal housing authorities in the state.

“We have found that energy costs can account for a significant amount of the maintenance and operating expenses of a housing complex,” said Judith A. Calogero, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.  “Working with NYPA, we will expand the use of high efficiency refrigerators as part of our efforts to improve energy management practices in public housing.”

The cost for the first phase is approximately $370,000 and will be repaid over a ten year period from the energy savings and rebates provided to BMHA by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).  As part of the New York State Energy Star Products Program for Residential Multifamily Buildings, NYSERDA offers eligible customers of Niagara Mohawk Power Company, and several other utilities, rebates of $140 per refrigerator replaced.  BMHA is a Niagara Mohawk customer.

“NYSERDA’s support for this energy-saving initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to help local governments achieve Governor Pataki’s goals for improved energy efficiency in public facilities across the Empire State,” said NYSERDA Chairman Vincent A. DeIorio.

In 2001, Governor Pataki issued Executive Order No. 111 establishing energy efficiency and renewable energy goals for state buildings and vehicles.  The NYCHA and BMHA programs are in line with the Governor’s executive order which also encourages local governments to pursue similar goals.

In 1995, NYPA’s energy services unit entered into a refrigerator replacement program in public housing with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the nation’s largest housing authority.  In 1996, that program began replacing more than 180,000 aging refrigerators in most of NYCHA’s 345 developments in the city’s five boroughs.  Over 100 housing authorities and utilities nationwide have developed programs based on the NYCHA program.  As part of the program, NYPA engaged an appliance recycler in Syracuse to remove salvageable components from the older units and recycle millions of pounds of aluminum, copper, steel and cardboard.