Even before California residents and businesses had to grapple with the power crisis engulfing the Golden State, the Salinas Auto Mall dealers were taking big steps to cut their energy use while still providing a safe shopping environment for their customers.

“When we first designed the new Salinas Auto Mall, we made a major purchase of high-intensity, low-energy lights for the entire mall,” says Max Jamiesson, president of the Salinas Auto Mall Association. “Our objective then was to create a safe, outside shopping environment for the majority of people who make their car-buying decisions after working hours.”

Now that purchase is paying off. The auto mall's current bills show that their electricity costs are about the same now as they were at their old facilities, even though they have doubled their acreage and quadrupled the number of light poles.

“The light intensity of one of these light bulbs is actually five times brighter using the same energy output as the common street light,” says Mr. Jamiesson. “Although some have criticized us for the brightness of our lights, our sales increase over the past few months significantly supports the fact that the brightness creates a safe and desirable environment for the public to shop for a vehicle.

“Now all of us in California are faced with an energy crunch and the Salinas Auto Mall is implementing ways to cut back even more.”

Mr. Jamiesson says that as the state's energy crisis continues, the mall is working on ways to reduce electrical use. One way is to use only 60% of the lights in the lot and turn off the electric auto mall sign overnight.

“We are committed to the community of Salinas, and the state of California,” he says. “We want to be good neighbors and are willing to do what it takes to do that.”