Santa Cruz, CA (June 13, 2005) - Carrying a ladder almost twice her size, you might recognize the petite Carolina Raciti walking downtown.
At 5 feet 2 inches, Raciti is a spirited lighting specialist for RightLights, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit that visits local businesses to help improve their energy efficiency.
"People can save lots of money on their lighting bills," Raciti said in Spanish as she dragged her ladder out of her car, ready to inspect lighting units overhead.
When Raciti, 27, visited the Super Grullense Taqueria at 353 Main St., owner Carlos Flores was more than willing to listen to her pitch.
For years, Flores tried to figure out a way to reduce his electricity bill, which averaged about $2,000 a month.
Flores liked what he heard from Raciti.
After an initial free inspection of the taqueria’s lighting system, Raciti told him that $3,490 of immediate changes would result in thousands of dollars of annual savings.
"I was looking for this type of work but an independent contractor gave me a high estimate," Flores said in Spanish, noting a prior $6,000 estimate.
More good news came when Raciti told Flores he qualified for the RightLights rebate, which would result in him only having to pay $480.
"I wanted to save, and she helped me," said Flores.
Contracted by RightLights, electricians visited the taqueria and modified light fixtures and replaced light bulbs with more efficient ones.
Although Flores cannot say how much he has saved, Raciti said she estimates he will save about $3,500 a year.
And while saving money is why most business owners agree to Raciti’s recommendations, Raciti says it’s good for the country’s energy policy.
"People think, ‘Great, I am going to save on my energy bill,’ but we are doing more than that," said Raciti, who studied environmental science in her native Colombia.
RightLights seeks to reduce the nation’s dependence on natural resources, Raciti said.
"I feel like I am helping take the pressure off of our natural resources," she said.
Along with Flores’ restaurant, Raciti has helped more than a dozen other Watsonville businesses reduce lighting costs.
RightLights is funded by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Contact Joanne Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org