Sheriff Joe Arpaio was concerned about the waistlines of some of the inmates at his Arizona jail, so he had an idea. The sheriff brought in an electricity-generating stationary bike and hooked it up to a television set which is powered by the peddler--and if the prisoners want to watch TV, they have to exercise. Arpaio calls his system "Pedal Vision," and he thinks it may be just the thing to get his inmates in shape. But how much could be saved if the project was expanded and all 2.5 million exercise-starved prisoners in the US had a chance to produce their own electricity? The answer may surprise you.Produces Power, Burns Calories
According to the FOX affiliate in Phoenix, Sheriff Arpaio's "Pedal Vision" stationary bike produces 12 volts of electricity when pedaled, enough to power a 19 inch television in the jail's viewing center. A noise encourages the exercising inmates when their speed has slowed below what's needed to power the TV.
Right now, the "Pedal Vision" is only available to the female inmate population, but that could all change if the program is a success, so says Arpaio:
I started with the females because they seemed more receptive to the idea. The only exercise the females get right now is speed-walking around the tents yard and few are doing that. This gives them a reason to get moving and a way to burn up to 500 calories an hour. They won't be charged a monthly gym fee but they will have to sign a contract.
What If Every Prisoner Produced Power?
But have you ever wondered how much in energy costs could be saved across the country if every incarcerated individual in the United States had an energy-producing stationary bike at their disposal? Well, the total US prisoner population in 2008 was 2,424,279 people, and an individual can produce 150 watts when peddling moderately on a stationary bike which would make for a total of 363,641.85 kilowatts per hour (kWh) produced if everyone peddled. With the average price of electricity being 12¢/kWh in the US, if every prisoner exercised for 2.5 hours a day, that would amount to $109,092 in energy cost savings each day, or nearly $40 million a year!
I may have been a bit optimistic with the numbers, since of course not everyone would be interested in having a bike to ride, but any amount of money even close to that would still be pretty shocking considering it's just from energy generated with pedal power, particularly amongst such a large incarcerated population who might appreciate the exercise.
For now though, it's nice to see that the female prisoners at Sheriff Arpaio's Arizona jail have taken their TV watching time off the grid, all while burning some calories.