Power Authority customers large and small have taken advantage of our refrigerator replacement program, which helps municipalities provide energy efficient refrigerators to public housing residents. The new units typically consume half the energy of the older models, and use a more environmentally friendly refrigerant gas besides.
The New York City Housing Authority, one of our largest electricity customers, was the first agency to take advantage of the program. Starting in 1996, we began replacing some 185,000 energy-wasting refrigerators throughout the Big Apple with compact new units better suited to public housing residences. We completed installations in 2004, with New York City taxpayers realizing approximately $7 million annually in electricity costs. Equally important, the energy-saving effort translates into a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 72,000 tons each year.
In 2002, the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal invited us to expand this initiative statewide. First in line for the program was the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, which offered its tenants the chance to participate voluntarily. More than 1,600 apartment dwellers opted to trade in their old refrigerators for more efficient appliances, which helps the Housing Authority save $50,000 a year on its energy bill.
In early 2007, three municipal electric systems in Northern New York joined the program. The City of Plattsburgh and the villages of Lake Placid and Tupper Lake—all of which rely on low-cost NYPA hydropower to meet some or all of their energy needs—took advantage of our low-interest financing to buy Energy Star® Qualified refrigerators for public housing units within their jurisdictions. A total of 623 new refrigerators replaced existing appliances, with each new unit saving almost 300 kilowatt-hours annually. That combined reduction in energy use is the equivalent of 314 barrels of oil not burned for fuel and 94 tons of greenhouse gas emissions not released into the atmosphere.
More than 100 additional public housing authorities and electric utilities from North Carolina to Alaska have launched similar refrigerator replacement programs, using to save money and megawatts. Bulk purchasing arrangements have also helped create a market for these super-efficient, apartment-sized refrigerators while keeping prices down.
Not satisfied with simply saving energy and avoiding emissions, we also contracted with an appliance recycler in Syracuse who removes all salvageable components from the discarded units and recycles millions of pounds of aluminum, copper, steel and cardboard. This greatly reduces the amount of material that is ultimately disposed of as garbage.