The Energy Consumer's Bulletin- a New England energy news blog

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Green Power Member Spotlight: David Stephenson

The “Member Spotlight” series highlights the individuals that make our organization great. Each post tells the story of an outstanding Mass Energy or PP&L member. By sharing their stories we hope to spread the word about their unique efforts and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

73-year-old David Stephenson isn’t your typical retiree. A grandfather of 8 and avid swimmer, David recently completed the 1.7-mile Save The Bay Annual Swim from Newport to Jamestown, RI, for the sixth consecutive year. “I grew up at a summer camp… I spent as much as 12 hours a day in the water as a kid,” David said.


New members of People’s Power & Light (PP&L)’s New England GreenStart program, David and his wife do what they can to be ecologically responsible. “It’s one small step that I can take… doing a little part of my part,” David said. He values the environmental benefit of burning less fuel. The couple recycles, composts, and limits their trash output to one bag a month – even reusing the plastic bag they use to transport waste. David found a large industrial recycling bin that he repurposed as a rain barrel; any of the watering around his home is usually covered by the barrel’s catchment.

He and his wife have an efficient ductless air conditioner and heat pump installed in their home, and “we’re very, very, picky about the few times that we use the air conditioning,” David said. He estimated that he has only turned it on twice this summer. Living in a woodsy area and adding hand-crank awnings for shade have also helped the couple stay cool on hot days – being resourceful, David took advantage of an awning sale at Ocean State Job Lot.

David is also musically inclined, playing tenor saxophone in the Wakefield Concert Band and for a smaller project, ROMPS – an acronym for Retired Old Musicians Playing Swing. ROMPS, according to their website, is a 17-piece swing band performing music from the ‘30s and ‘40s. As a part of the larger 75-musician Wakefield Concert Band, David has had a hand in raising over $110,000 for South County Hospital’s STAR program for cancer survivors. The band also helps to raise food and monetary donations for the Johnnycake Center, an organization that runs an emergency food pantry and other programs to combat hunger. Just a week before he spoke with us, David dropped off 125 pounds of food and $279 in donations on behalf of the band. The band is puts on free summer concerts at Marina Park in Wakefield and several holiday concerts in the winter months.

Before he retired, David spent 44 years as a public educator, teaching English and speech. He also had a stint as a guidance counselor on Block Island, where he traveled by ferry or occasionally by plane to the island town. He bought a pair of binoculars after his first semester so he could watch whales and birds on his scenic commute.

Nowadays, David is looking forward to the opportunities that solar power will offer in the future. At their former home, he and his wife had a solar hot water system that took care of 75% of their hot water needs in the house. Regarding PP&L’s mix of renewables – wind, solar, low-impact hydro, and digester gas – he does not have a favorite. “If they work and are efficient, I’d say all of the above,” David said.

David is one of over 230 Save The Bay members to make the switch to green electricity in his home. Save The Bay, a partner of PP&L, is an environmental non-profit based in Rhode Island whose mission is to protect and improve Narragansett Bay. David tries to take small steps to reduce his environmental impact – and so can you, by making the switch at