Habanero’s going verde

LS restaurant replaces traditional light bulbs with LED fixtures, bulbs

tporter@lsjournal.comNovember 27, 2013 

  • 288

    Total number of incandescent light bulbs replaced by LED fixtures and bulbs by owners of Habanero’s Mexican Restaurant in Lee’s Summit.

Vincent Totta wants to share the wealth of knowledge he’s gain from a rebate program for non-residential customers of Kansas City Power & Light.

Totta, co-owner of Habanero’s Mexican Restaurant with silent partner Joe Lange, said the restaurant at 1008 S.E. Blue Parkway in Lee’s Summit is one of the first in the city to ‘go green.’

Habanero’s recently furnished its entire building with energy efficient LED fixtures and bulbs. Owners replaced 288 incandescent light bulbs, which has minimized electrical consumption for lighting as well as lowered the demand for dining room air conditioning.

“It’s an outgrowth from a program that was brought to my attention from Kansas City Power & Light,” Totta said of the change. “They have a custom rebate program and they encourage businesses to do what we did here to try to figure out ways to conserve electricity and they actually foot part of the bill.

“When I found out about it, we applied for it – it’s a lengthy process; I think it takes about eight weeks. They actually will give you anywhere from 30 up to 50 percent rebate off your consumption. We applied, was accepted and the only stipulation was once they approve, you have six months to install it.”

Totta said they turned in paperwork in March, got approval in late May and began switching light bulbs in July. He added each of the previous light bulbs served as sort of a mini heater that omitted constant heat. By switching to LED bulbs, the business uses one-tenth the energy for illumination as well as dramatically minimizes heat output, which in turn saves electricity.

All of the parking lot lights at the restaurant were replaced with LED fixtures as well and Totta calculates that the business will procure at least 20,000-25,000 kilowatt hours of savings.

“I think it’s a great program,” he said. “A lot of businesses probably aren’t aware of it; I know I wasn’t. I had heard about, but really didn’t know the details. When it was brought to my attention, we got together with a local light bulb company. The salesman knew all about the program and he explained it to me. We went ahead and moved forward with it.”

Nelson Struewe of Allegiant Service Group and Light Bulbs, Etc. was the salesman that brought the KCP&L rebate program to Totta’s attention. Not only did Struewe, Allegiant’s vice president of sales, provide the LED bulbs for Habanero’s, he also installed the replacement bulbs as well.

Struewe, the lighting retrofit and rebate coordinator at Light Bulbs, Etc., said the program in itself is a win-win for any non-residential customer of KCPL.

“It’s one of the more lucrative rebate programs in the country if people would just take advantage of it,” Struewe said. “We’ve done right at 494 (replacements). It’s not often when you find people who are so receptive and so quick to jump down on that, but (Totta) got it right off the bat. Not everybody gets it. They just look at it like ‘we’re spending a whole lot of money,’ even if KCP&L helps them out with it, but Vince got it pretty quickly and he understood.

“You can call ‘going green’ a couple of different things. Whether you look at it environmentally or a lot of people want to look at ‘green’ as money. Either way works. It works well both ways.”

Totta added the win-win belongs to consumers such as Habanero’s – who will probably recapture its initial investment within three years through monthly energy savings – as well as KCP&L itself.

“I thought, ‘why are they doing that? That’s very generous,’” he said of the rebate program. “I did a little more research and they are always looking at peak demand. They are trying to figure out ways to get customers to cut back their demand so that they don’t have to build another plant. I guess it’s in their best interest do this.”

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