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How about them apples! Orchard more energy-efficient

A business near Sunbury recently changed its lighting, not only saving energy and money but improving employee morale.

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — There is always a lot happening at Dries Orchards, an apple-growing and packing facility near Sunbury. The orchard has more than 200 acres of fruit trees.

"The retail store, we sell to wholesalers in the area, Giant and Weis Markets. It's a growing operation," said John Bzdil, a manager at Dries Orchards.

Recently, the facility upgraded to LED lighting.

"We took out over 90 older lights and were able to change them with 27 LED lights."

Dries Orchards was able to upgrade the lighting with help from a program through the Department of Environmental Protection. The Agricultural Energy Efficiency Rebate Program pays 50 percent of equipment costs up to $2,000. This is for LED lighting, energy-efficient ventilation equipment, and energy-efficient milk pumping equipment for Pennsylvania ag producers.

"It's just a nice way to help jump-start things and get them interested in installing energy-efficient equipment so they can save energy and money on their electric bills," said Michelle Ferguson, a DEP energy program specialist.

Bzdil says in addition to saving energy and money, the LED lighting improved the company's work environment.

"Our employees are able to see a lot better, so we're putting out a better product. It actually helped employee morale. Everyone comments, 'This is great. It's bright in here!' A nice place to work."

Farmers can apply to the program here through June 30.

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