ROUSES POINT When it comes to conserving energy, Mayor George A. Rivers takes the matter very seriously. Thats evident in the number of ways the village of Rouses Point has taken strides in the past six years to reduce energy costs. The village of Rouses Point has been taking a harder look at new and innovative ways to save electricity since it became a member of the Independent Energy Efficiency Program in 2001. The program, designed to create and discover smart energy solutions, handles funding contributed by participating municipalities in order to ensure theyre making energy-conscious decisions that will ultimately benefit their residents. A portion of the money proceeds from the villages sale of electric power is contributed quarterly to a fund maintained by the state, which is then distributed as needed at the municipalitys request. The most recent examples of which may be seen up and down the streets of downtown, where Christmas lights adorn the villages already energy efficient street lights. When preparing for the holiday season, Mayor Rivers said he was approached by village clerk Carol A. Hanfield about the need to replace several burned out and broken bulbs used for the villages holiday decorations. Prior to making a purchase, Mayor Rivers said he spoke with a representative with the IEEP in Syracuse, with an idea to replace the existing incandescent bulbs with energy efficient light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. I told him what we wanted to do and he said send us the bill, said Mayor Rivers. The lights met criteria under the program for saving energy, he said, as they use roughly one-third the energy of traditional Christmas lights. And, oh, theyre beautiful, said Mayor Rivers. Weve gotten wonderful comments about them. Theres a different brightness to them. The approximately $3,800 cost up front was covered by money the village contributes toward a fund held by the IEEP, which distributes the money as needed, said Mayor Rivers. The result of converting to the energy efficient lights will likely be seen when they are taken down for the season and energy bills are compared to previous years, said Mayor Rivers. In December, the village began its participation in a refrigerator recycling and Energy Star refrigerator replacement program called Tame the Refrigerator Monster. The focus of the program is to encourage Rouses Point Electric residential customers to upgrade their refrigerators to Energy Star labeled models and to remove and properly recycle their old refrigerators. Village residents cannot only get as much as $75 for making the purchase, they can even get an additional $75 to have the monster hauled away, said Mayor Rivers. Now this is a good program, the mayor said. We help you get that monster off the road. In addition to refrigerators, the program also includes a rebate incentive for other appliances such as freezers, dishwashers and air conditioners. All a resident has to do is bring in their receipt, said Mayor Rivers. In addition to replacing its holiday lighting and offering incentives for residents to purchase energy efficient appliances, the village has also contributed funding for businesses participating in the villages downtown revitalization program, in order to purchase energy efficient windows. Other businesses have received as much as $90,000 for energy saving equipment, which ultimately leads to lower energy bills in the long run, said Mayor Rivers. The village has also gone as far as to provide two compact fluorescent light bulbs free to its residents, in a program similar to one held in the city of Plattsburgh, which also participates in the IEEP. Were constantly looking for new ways to save energy. There are just so many things you can do, said Mayor Rivers. Most recently, Rouses Point Elementary School has installed a solar panel which will be utilized by students to monitor and study how energy is absorbed from the sun. The panel is also being funded through the energy program, in addition to funding going toward making an upcoming expansion at the school more energy efficient, said Mayor Rivers. Though the amount of electricity the lone panel will generate will be minimal, the educational impact is something Mayor Rivers said he hopes will put students on the path to become energy conservationists. Weve got to start when theyre young, said the mayor. Its like teaching fire prevention. Theyre the ones who need to know this when theyre making decisions when they grow up. In addition to Rouses Point and the city of Plattsburgh, 21 other municipalities across New York State currently participate in the Independent Energy Efficiency Program Akron, Arcade, Bath, Bergen, Boonville, Castile, Churchville, Endicott, Fairport, Greene, Hamilton, Lake Placid, Little Valley, Mayville, Penn Yan, Salamanca, Solvay, Spencerport, Springville, Wellsville and Westfield.