Royal OakNovember 7, 2012
Local businesses sign on to Adopt-A-Watt
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — About 200 people gathered at the Royal Oak Farmers Market Nov. 1 to celebrate a step into the future.
The gathering signified the launch of local participation in the Adopt-A-Watt program, which already has commitments in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington despite having Royal Oak roots. Similar to Adopt-A-Highway efforts nationwide, Adopt-A-Watt charges businesses and organizations with sponsoring specific light fixtures to pay for the upkeep, and the businesses and organizations receive signs crediting them in return.
“It’s something we’ve been bantering around for quite a few years now as a way to think outside the box, if you will, and along the way be energy conservationists,” Mayor Jim Ellison said. “It’s an exciting time for the city of Royal Oak.”
Thomas A. Wither, Adopt-A-Watt founder, said the 96 light fixtures that have been adopted in Royal Oak parking garages — by both Royal Oak and Clawson businesses — would save the city money in the long run.
“We’ve calculated and your support at this point will save the city approximately $120,000 over the next 10 years with the new induction-fluorescent lights,” Wither said. “It will also eliminate the burning of 386,000 pounds of coal. You’re part of a national initiative to help America become more energy efficient (and) reduce our dependence on foreign oil, all at no cost to the taxpayers.”
Sponsors’ signs will be mounted next to their adopted lights, and there will be signage at the parking garage exits.
Several other local dignitaries were on hand to discuss the importance of the new program, including state Rep. Jim Townsend, U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and Steve Reif, president of the Oakland Community College Royal Oak campus.
“Royal Oak is a truly progressive city,” Carl Levin said. “This is similar to the Adopt-A-Highway program we see out on our roads. This is a highway in a sense, too, because what we are unveiling today is a road to a brighter future, a road of energy efficiency with brighter alternatives, greener energy. It also involves a private/public partnership.”
He referred to the energy efficiency technology, reduction of oil dependence and environment benefits as a “three-fer,” but his brother said it is only the start.
“We need to do much more,” Sandy Levin said. “Perhaps energy efficiency isn’t a wave of the future. We’ve learned that, when it comes to progress, it usually doesn’t come in waves, but it comes step by step. And clearly, energy efficiency is the direction of the future and that’s the significance of our meeting today.”
The partnership between the private and public sectors was a focal point of discussion.
“The companies that are here, the organizations that are sponsoring this, are really smart because they’re not only doing something that’s good for all of us, good for the environment, good for the planet, but they’re also smart business people because they know that many, many market research studies have been done (that show) that consumers are really interested in supporting businesses that have a strong social mission and are doing things to help the community,” Townsend said. “You realize that a business is only as successful as the community that is supporting the business.”
Discussion also touched on the possibility of electrical vehicles becoming more popular in the future and how the cost to fuel them would be 75-80 percent less per mile than that of current vehicles.
“The city and the environment are winners on this,” Wither said.