Cover Story

A New Light on Virginia State Parks 

Virginia’s electric cooperatives bring a new light to our state parks in the name of energy efficiency.


Story by Jeb Hockman, Contributing Writer. Photo by Laura Emery.


Pocohontas State Park Ranger Perry DeMay and Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources L Preston Bryant Jr. demonstrate the power of working together for positive change.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has announced a donation by Virginia’s electric cooperatives that can cut energy usage and save the Commonwealth money for years to come.


The co-ops are donating 4,200 compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), allowing the state to replace all existing incandescent light bulbs in Virginia’s 35 state parks. “Replacing the old lighting in cabins, visitor centers and other structures throughout the park system will be a major step in helping achieve our administration’s goal of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions outlined in our Renew Virginia initiative,” says Gov. Kaine. “I applaud Virginia’s electric cooperatives and their nearly half-million consumer-members throughout the state for making this possible.”

The Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) and power supplier Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) donated the 4,200 bulbs, valued at $18,000. 

According to estimates from General Electric, manufacturer of the donated bulbs, replacing the old lights with CFLs could reduce overall energy consumption from more than 320 kilowatts per year to less than 80, saving state parks more than $56,000 annually, based on current usage data. They would also reduce carbon dioxide or “greenhouse gas” emissions by more than one-million pounds per year.

“This is the equivalent of removing 94 cars per year from Virginia roads or adding 134 acres of forested land,” says Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant Jr.

At the cooperatives’ request, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation provided a list of the number and types of electric bulbs required throughout the Virginia State Park system. These included an assortment of standard 40-, 60- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, 60-watt bug lamps, 120-watt spot lamps and other specialty bulbs. Each of these will be replaced by an equivalent energy-efficient CFL fixture. For example, 100-watt incandescent bulbs will be replaced with CFLs that use just 26 watts to provide the same amount of light.

 “If every Virginia family replaced just one incandescent bulb in their home with a CFL, the energy savings would be significant,” notes Jack Reasor, president and CEO of VMDAEC and ODEC. “It is the hope of Virginia’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives and our consumer-members that by demonstrating the dramatic energy savings that can be achieved by installing CFL fixtures at our state parks, we can encourage all of our fellow citizens to do the same.”

Reasor said that many of Virginia’s state parks are located in rural areas of the Commonwealth where Virginia’s 13 electric distribution cooperatives are the primary energy providers. “This is why we felt it was a natural fit for our cooperatives to give back to our communities and continue our program of reminding all Virginians to be more energy efficient.”

The donation was made possible through the auspices of the state’s 13 local not-for-profit electric cooperatives plus cooperative power supplier Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, which provides electricity to nine of these cooperatives.

Virginia’s electric cooperatives are A&N Electric Cooperative, Tasley; BARC Electric Cooperative, Millboro; Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Arrington; Community Electric Cooperative, Windsor; Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative, New Castle; Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, Chase City; Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, Warsaw; Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC), Manassas; Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, Jonesville; Prince George Electric Cooperative, Waverly; Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Fredericksburg; Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Mt. Crawford; and Southside Electric Cooperative, Crewe.  


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