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Wasting Energy

October 25, 2000

* Last summer Southern Californians became aware of how overextended our power grid has become. Amid this shortage, the Oxnard Auto Center wants to install a million dollar electronic billboard. This kind of energy misuse has already led to rolling blackouts and relaxed emission standards for existing power plants. Higher utility bills and more polluting power plants are sure to follow.

Here are a few steps that would help conserve energy:

* Advertising floodlights waste enormous amounts of electricity in addition to causing glare and distraction to motorists. For safety and energy savings, they should be eliminated or at least pointed toward the ground where less wattage would provide more usable lighting and reduce glare.

* A kilowatt-hour of electricity should cost the same for a studio apartment as it does for a giant auto mall. Discount rates for big energy users should be abolished, as this encourages energy waste.

* The city of Tucson, Ariz., has for years had an ordinance that reduces energy consumption and light pollution. All cities should consider similar laws.

These measures could delay the need for blackouts, rate increases and costly, polluting new power plants. Additionally, with the elimination of wasteful lighting, the stars would slowly return to the skies of Southern California as the wasteful glare of misdirected light is replaced by the soft glow of the Milky Way.

ERNEST UNDERHAY

Oak View

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