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‘Change a light, change the world’

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BURNS, Ore. – It’s a first in the nation. Every light bulb on the Burns Paiute Reservation will soon take the shape of the familiar compact fluorescent twist after tribal members visit each household to “change a light, change the world.”

The effort is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration’s Energy Efficiency program which, in 2008 alone, helped capture enough savings to power about 65,000 households in the Pacific Northwest. One of the most effective ways people can reduce electricity use in their homes is to use CFLs, which last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75 percent less energy.

“The Burns Paiute Tribe is proud to lead the way in this green effort,” said acting Tribal General Manager Kenton Dick. “We appreciate all the benefits of this program, from the cash savings it brings to the members of our tribe, to the stewardship it provides to our planet. This is a story with a happy ending for all involved.”

The project to replace all of the bulbs will take about three weeks. The reservation houses about 175 members in 60 homes. With the other facilities on the property, that equals about 1,200 bulbs. BPA partnered with Portland Energy Conservation, Inc., to train installers on numerous aspects of the project, including answering tribal members’ questions.

“People, especially our elders, want information about the new bulbs that we are installing in their homes,” said Tribal Housing Director Jody Hill. “They want to know, ‘Will those fit into my lamps?’ and, ‘How long will they last?’ When we show them the great quality of light from CFLs and answer their other questions, they are thrilled to find out how the twists are such an improvement over the old-fashioned incandescent lights.”

“The relatively small Burns Paiute Tribe is showing impressive national leadership,” said BPA Tribal Affairs Manager Nathan Dexter. “This grass roots effort is setting an excellent example of how Native Americans can make a difference. I’m looking forward to seeing other tribes partner with BPA in this program as well.”

The Burns Paiute Reservation is located north of Burns, Ore. in Harney County. The current tribal members are primarily the descendants of the “Wadatika” band of Paiute Indians that roamed in central and southeastern Oregon.