Energy Trust's incentives make Tualatin Indoor's energy-efficient lighting upgrade a possibility
by: Jaime Valdez Tualatin Indoor Soccer owner Monty Hawkins said he expects to see a complete payoff of his investment of energy-
efficient lights in less than three years.

Tualatin Indoor Soccer made a move toward big energy savings with the installation of new, energy-efficient lighting.

With a big assist from a $9,371 cash incentive from Energy Trust of Oregon, business owner Monty Hawkins is already reaping the fiscal benefits.

'It's good to be responsible and invest (in energy-efficient solutions),' said Hawkins, who opened Tualatin Indoor Soccer on Southwest Itel Street in 2003. 'If you think about it, it's going to be a responsible business-owner that's looking out for the environment, who's fortunate enough to have an energy savings through the investment, and ends up with a great product delivered.

'That's all it is, isn't it? It's kind of a no-brainer. The hurdles are being able to afford it and to take the gamble, so to speak, about recouping the savings in your energy usage. But, you see those savings, and you feel good about your decision.'

Energy Trust is an Oregon-based nonprofit dedicated to providing energy-saving alternatives for utility customers. Hawkins was approached by the organization multiple times in the past several years, but had turned down previous incentives to the installation of energy-efficient fluorescent lighting in his arena.

'I had put it off because the incentive wasn't enough (for me),' Hawkins said. 'The cost was still too high.

'This year, they increased the incentive from covering about a third of the cost of the project, to covering just over 50 percent of the cost, so that pushed me over the edge.'

Though simply replacing the same old bulbs he had used for years would have cost a quarter of what the new installation cost, Tualatin Indoor's energy bills have already taken a 35 percent dip since installation in December. With an estimated $4,100 saved in annual costs, Hawkins said he expects to see a full return on his investment in less than three years.

'The incentive is great, but when you start seeing your energy bill, and it's 30 to 40 percent less than it's been, you really start to say, 'Wow this works,'' Hawkins said. 'They installed the new lights section by section, two, three rows at a time, so you could literally see the walls turning from yellow to white down the field as they replaced each new row.

'We really didn't notice (how bad it was) until we put the new light bulbs in. It was like a new paint job.'

Tualatin Indoor hosts about 2,000 indoor soccer enthusiasts every week in both adult and youth leagues.

'I think 2011 has been our best year of league play,' Hawkins said. '(In spite of the economic downturn,) we've done well. People don't give up their once-a-week league play. It's kind of the fabric of their life.'

With as many hours as the arena is open and serving as many people as it does, energy savings are a big deal to the small businessowner.

'We only shut down for about six or seven days a year. That's why those lights are so important,' Hawkins said. 'For me, the lights were an obvious thing.'

Beyond lighting improvements, Energy Trust representatives also shed light on other areas Tualatin Indoor could improve in order to help the environment while also saving money.

'We're looking into the insulation, being more efficient with that, too,' Hawkins said. 'You're winning at a lot of different levels. This was an easy decision.'

Tualatin Indoor Soccer is located at 11883 S.W. Itel St.

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