Albertson's, Inc. is stepping up to the plate and turning down the lights in its stores as one of the first retailers to join the California Grocers Association (CGA) energy conservation program unveiled by Governor Gray Davis. This effort is expected to help make available thousands of kilowatt hours each day a Stage I alert is called by the California Independent Services Operator (ISO).

As a program participant, the company has announced that during Stage I ISO alerts, it will voluntarily reduce in-store lighting in its more than 800 food stores and Sav-on drug stores across California by up to 50 percent. If warranted by the emergency energy shortage, it may also curtail the use of balers, compactors, battery chargers and electric cooking equipment. Due to the severe situation in San Diego, stores will initiate the power reduction program immediately, maintaining it on a daily basis throughout the month of August.

"There is a shortage of electric power generation capacity throughout California," said Dave Simonson, President of Albertson's Southern California Region. "The supply versus demand imbalance has become so severe during the past three summer seasons that utility companies have sought the cooperation of both business and consumers to help reduce demand.

"We believe it's important for Albertson's to `step up to the plate,' and voluntarily take steps that will reduce the demand our stores place on the system during hot weather, and, as a result, provide a significant benefit to California energy consumers."

Added Mike Patton, President of Albertson's Northern California Region, "Through this effort, in aggregate, our California facilities will significantly impact the power grid system reliability and thus help reduce the risk of power shut down to designated sites as well as the local residential customers. Our experts estimate that the reduction in store lighting alone will reduce demand on the system by 25,000 kilowatts per hour."

The company's tests of the store lighting reduction indicate that Albertson's customers not only appreciate what the company is trying to accomplish by reducing the demand stores place on the power system, some describe the reduced lighting atmosphere in the store as "feeling cool and quiet."

Albertson's, Inc. is one of the nation's largest food and drug retailers operating more than 2,500 stores in 37 states. The company operates two food and one drug region in California and Nevada. Its Northern California Food Region is based in San Leandro. The Southern California Food Region and its Sav-on Drug Region are based in Buena Park. The company operates more than 800 stores in California and Las Vegas, Nevada.