Part I: Lowering Overhead in a Year When Every Penny Counts

by Lacy Stockton | Jan 12, 2021

The Town Toyota Center team isn’t wearing winter coats to the office anymore.

This is probably the last detail you’d notice as they busily adapt the facility during COVID. But it hints at some much-needed good news: they spend over $40,000 less on energy each year than they used to, thanks to improved energy efficiency.

Town Toyota Center exterior with sunset behind

Wenatchee's Town Toyota Center has new equipment and lighting that helps them save thousands each year on their energy bills.

How Did They Do It?

Town Toyota Center upgraded lighting and key equipment, including new variable frequency drives and windows. To make it happen, it received over $480,000 in incentives from Chelan County PUD for their efficiency upgrades—making their high-quality equipment actually cost less out of pocket than standard gear.

Over the years, Chelan PUD has helped hundreds of businesses – large and small – lower their overhead costs by saving energy.

These incentives, which covered up to 100% of project costs, were the difference between creating a more comfortable, functional facility, and suffering through years of high energy bills.

In a year like 2020, the money-saving upgrades were a lifesaver.

Minimizing Fixed Costs, a ‘Godsend’

The economic impact of the pandemic struck hard at the home of Wenatchee Wild hockey and the largest indoor social venue in Chelan County. The pandemic changed all local businesses, but the hardest hit were those that offered entertainment and social gathering, like restaurants, bars, and theaters.

iFiber community ice rink at Town Toyota Center filled with skaters of all ages, pre-pandemic

The iFiber community ice rink is filled with skaters of all ages at Town Toyota Center in early 2020. The rink reopened yesterday for private rentals.

To survive, businesses have had to adapt and cut overhead. Variable costs like food and staffing might fluctuate with sales. But fixed costs, such as rent and utilities, are difficult to change.

One often-overlooked way to minimize fixed costs is to improve a building’s energy efficiency. With incentives from Chelan PUD, efficient upgrades can cost businesses next to nothing, while saving money from day one and for many years to come.

The energy efficient upgrades at Town Toyota Center have been, “a godsend,” says Aaron Harvey, assistant general manager.

Repurposing to Serve the Community

In a year when every penny counts, lower utility bills have made a difference to Town Toyota Center. They’re able to focus their resources on more important things, like serving local community organizations.

“The building hasn’t stopped,” Mark Miller, general manager, says. “It’s just been repurposed.”

All events at Town Toyota Center were cancelled overnight with stay-home orders in March. The facility quickly adapted, offering its large parking lot for first responder pick-up lunches, a high school graduation parade, outdoor movies, resource drives, and distanced trick-or-treating. The arena operates as a food warehouse with drive-through food distribution.

Food distribution at Town Toyota Center arena filled with food boxes

The Town Toyota Center arena has been repurposed as a food distribution center during the pandemic.

Keeping overhead costs to a minimum helped Town Toyota Center serve community organizations in an emergency capacity. Its energy efficient improvements will shine even brighter when the center reopens for events.

Lighting the Way

The most noticeable upgrade is redesigned lighting. Not only does LED lighting save energy, but it also comes with game-changing flexibility and extra capabilities.

The new LED arena lights means that Town Toyota Center can control their lighting timing, colors, and intensity with the swipe of a finger. The old arena lights took about nine minutes to warm up and cast a dim yellow light that made shows a challenge.

“You can make it a show now!” Mark laughs. “When the goal lights come on in a Wild game, we can go dark without a delay of game for the lights to come back on.”

Town Toyota Center Winter Gala with purple rink lighting and spotlights

Efficient LED lights offer nearly infinite color choices, painting the Town Toyota Center arena rink purple during the Winter Gala fundraiser.

Motion sensors were also added throughout the facility, saving thousands that would otherwise light unoccupied spaces.

“I walked into the office after the upgrade, and all the lights were off,” Mark recalls. “I almost cheered!”

And then there’s all the savings on not having to buy pink paint….

Read Part II to learn why.


Your business upgrades could also be paid for by Chelan PUD incentives, so you can focus on adapting and improving your business. Check out our incentive page for more information. Or contact Scott Stanford, Chelan PUD commercial energy advisor, at or (509) 661-4187.


A special thanks to the Town Toyota Center team for sharing their experiences and photos with us!

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