Verizon Steps Up Energy Conservation Program

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Verizon Communications is stepping up its long-standing energy conservation program by adjusting its building operating systems, identifying alternative energy sources, and encouraging its 16,000 California employees to use energy more efficiently.

While the need for energy conservation has intensified recently with the California energy crisis, Verizon began accelerating its efforts decades ago.

"Customers can be assured that local telephone service will continue to work without major disruption," said Tim McCallion, Verizon Pacific region president. "We've been working to reduce power consumption as we design, construct and operate our facilities. So far, we have been able to minimize our power usage while maintaining high standards and providing good customer service."

It is anticipated that the California crisis will cost Verizon an additional $3 million this year.

Under the direction of a 12-member company energy group nationally, Verizon has intensified its California initiatives in four key energy-saving areas:

  • Installing more efficient lighting, heating and air-conditioning systems in Verizon's facilities;
  • Encouraging employees to use office lighting and equipment more efficiently, and to lower temperature settings. Several thousand posters providing energy saving tips are now displayed in main entrances, elevator lobbies, break rooms, cafeterias and other high visibility locations in Verizon buildings;
  • Exploring additional ways to maximize the company's generators. Verizon has identified a potential site to implement a pilot, bi-fueling project that allows diesel-powered generators to also operate on natural gas. Natural gas is known to have less negative impact on the environment as well as being a more efficient energy source.
  • Researching and evaluating opportunities for alternative energy sources including the use of molten carbonate fuel-cell technology instead of phosphoric acid fuel cells. Molten carbonate fuel cells would generate electricity in the telephone network's central offices by using hydrogen from natural gas. This technology is more environmentally friendly than the currently used phosphoric acid fuel cells.

Verizon , formed by the merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic, has been a leader in energy conservation in California. In the early 1970s, the company began installing more energy-efficient lights and motors used for heating and air conditioning in more than 1,000 buildings statewide. Over the years, the company has also:

  • Restricted hot water in buildings, with the exception of those with food facilities;
  • Replaced electric doors with revolving doors to better insulate heat and cold;
  • Installed economizers to use outside air for cooling its buildings, reducing the need for air conditioning;
  • Reduced the number of lamps in office buildings.

Six months ago, Verizon identified 100 buildings in California to implement even more efficient lighting and air conditioning projects. Those efforts are presently underway in Huntington Beach, Hermosa Beach and the San Fernando Valley, with high-energy consuming lamps being replaced with energy-efficient ones and the installation of control mechanisms to import outside air for cooling buildings.

Since mid-1999, Verizon has saved more than $10 million nationally by implementing 14,000 energy specific conservation measures.

Despite periodic blackouts that have affected parts of California recently, Verizon customers have not experienced major disruptions in their local telephone service because the company has backup power generators that automatically kick in when needed. The staff of Verizon's Emergency Operations Center, located in the company's Thousand Oaks regional headquarters, is continually monitoring the energy situation in California.

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