Conducting business on backup

Amy Scott Aug 3, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: You wouldn’t ordinarily consider the upper 80s a cooling trend. But for the eastern half of the country that’s practically arctic. Thunderstorms are expected to cool off parts of New York and New England tomorrow. But today many people were still working under dimmed lights. Or taking the stairs because elevators have been shut off. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg once again asked businesses to chip in by reducing their energy use. Marketplace’s Amy Scott reports Wall Street is doing its part.

AMY SCOTT: For the past three days JP Morgan Chase has taken four of its buildings completely off the grid. They’re running solely on emergency backup generators. The company has also turned up the thermostat a few notches. Spokesman Mike Fusco says the typically buttoned-up bank has loosened its collar a bit.

MIKE FUSCO: It’s more casual now, and we are seeing some more short sleeves. But it’s pretty much business as usual.

Fusco says the bank’s measures are saving enough energy to power several thousand homes. Meanwhile, Nasdaq has mostly shut down its electronic billboard in Times Square. The New York Stock Exchange dimmed the lights and shut down some elevators. Russell Sherman with Bear Stearns says his office has all but disappeared from the nighttime skies.

RUSSELL SHERMAN: The Bear Stearns building in midtown has a great-looking, seven-story, glass-lighted crown that’s a real nice beacon on the New York City skyline. But you won’t be seeing it tonight, and you didn’t see it last night.

Companies have some incentive to dim the lights. JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank participate in the New York Power Authority’s voluntary conservation program. Michael Saltzman is a spokesman.

MICHAEL SALTZMAN: In return for this, we pay these participants $40 for each kilowatt that they reduce.

For JP Morgan Chase, that adds up to about $300,000 at the end of the summer. Perhaps a greater incentive, though, is avoiding the kind of blackout the city endured three Augusts ago. Businesses lost more than a billion dollars.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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