In all endeavors, from facility construction to office paper use, NOVEC keeps protection of the environment in mind. We pursue an active program of planting trees and shrubs around substations and other facilities to provide screening and aid in erosion control.
Our tree-trimming program follows guidelines set by the Tree Care Industry Association to ensure that all right-of-way clearance is done in a manner that is healthiest for the tree, while still allowing for the safe and reliable delivery of electricity.
Our office recycling program includes everything from computer paper to printer ink cartridges to aluminum cans. Since 1996, NOVEC has recycled wood wire reels that previously were crushed and disposed. By recycling or giving away used wooden reels, NOVEC avoids sending thousands of pounds of waste to landfills and saves trees. In addition, NOVEC avoids paying disposal costs and passes those savings on to its customer-owners.
NOVEC regularly recycles hundreds of thousands of pounds of scrap wire, conductor, and cable by selling the metal to a recycler who melts and reuses it. To help reduce waste added to landfills during the December holidays, NOVEC operates a Christmas greens recycling program. Right-of-way crews process the greens into wood-chip mulch. Each year, NOVEC gives away or recycles more than 10,000 cubic yards of mulch.
NOVEC "recycles" its vehicle fleet as often as practical by rebuilding and refurbishing its trucks—including the aerial booms on bucket trucks—instead of purchasing new equipment. NOVEC has replaced old bucket trucks with new, state-of-the-art bucket trucks which save on labor costs and feature diesel engines that are easier and less costly to maintain. The trucks help the environment too, because they run on biodiesel—a clean-burning alternative fuel produced from vegetable oil.
Saving Energy in NOVEC Offices
It may seem counter intuitive that an electric utility has to watch its energy use, but NOVEC does. Power used at all NOVEC facilities during the last five years approached $1.8 million. To reduce this cost in the future, the Co-op replaced old, broken appliances with ENERGY STAR ones. To save on heating and cooling costs, NOVEC new energy-efficient geothermal systems in two office facilities in 1987 and 1991. These systems continue to save money for the Co-op and its members. Six heating, ventilating, and air conditioning units were replaced in 2010 with energy-efficient HVAC units.
NOVEC’s facilities department installed and set programmable thermostats to reduce power on weekends and ramp up Monday mornings. To date, a waste-oil furnace NOVEC installed in 2007 in the garage has saved almost 250,000 kilowatt-hours.
The company applied colorful stickers to light switches to remind employees to turn off unnecessary lights. It also asked employees to shut down computers, printers, fax machines, and copiers at the end of the work day. NOVEC continues to install motion-sensing and timed automatic shut-off light switches. In the last several years, the Co-op has replaced old fluorescent tube lights with new, highly efficient fixtures and replaced approximately 90 percent of incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use about 75 percent less energy.