Energy-efficient lighting to save city money

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published February 13, 2014

HARPER WOODS  — The city has been working on cost savings, and one of the areas it is tackling is energy-efficient lighting.

The City Council approved upgrades to both the municipal building lighting and some streetlights during its Feb. 3 meeting.

“I believe it’s important to work on ways to reduce our energy consumption and costs,” City Manager Randolph Skotarczyk said.

A move from fluorescent to LED lighting in the municipal building is a move toward efficiency and cost savings, according to city officials.

The City Council voted unanimously to upgrade the lighting at a cost of about $25,000, after a rebate, but the city will recoup its costs through energy savings in less than 2 years, according to city information.

“This represents an annual energy cost savings of approximately $13,935 a year,” Skotarczyk said.

The change will include more than 600 bulbs with a modification of the lighting fixtures and disposal of the current fluorescent bulbs.

Through research on lighting options, Skotarczyk discovered that products varied in their ability to improve lighting while saving on energy costs. After researching, Skotarczyk recommended a Michigan-based company, Lumerica, for the upgrade. The city was able to see what the change would look like after
representatives from the company put in some samples to try.

“The Lumerica product was superior to others we tried,” Skotarczyk said.

“An example of the improvement can be seen above the council bench,” he said.

The new lighting not only saves energy costs, but it also provides better lighting.

“These lights have been here for many years,” Skotarczyk said, adding that the city can do it without replacing fixtures. “We will be able to convert our current fixtures, which will save us a lot of money.”
Skotarczyk called the lighting in the municipal building prior to this change as “poor to average for many years.”

The bulbs last 15 years between replacements and do not have ballasts that need to be replaced with the bulbs, according to city information.

The City Council waived the bid process because Lumerica is the only provider of its bulbs and Lumerica was the low bidder when the cities of Burton and Rochester Hills conducted bidding processes for new lighting, according to city information.

The council also voted unanimously to convert 71 streetlights on Kelly — from Huntington to Kingsville — and Vernier — from Kelly to Beaconsfield — to LED lights. The conversion affects what are called “series streetlights.”

“These streetlights pose problems because when one light goes out, other lights on the circuit can be affected,” DTE stated in a press release about another series streetlight conversion. “The upgrades will ensure that when there is a problem with one street light, other lights on the circuit will continue to operate.

DTE is converting all series streetlights in its service area.

The company would have changed the lighting to sodium vapor without charging the city, but Skotarczyk recommended the change to LED, which supposedly provides brighter and better lighting, as well as cost savings for energy use.

The city was to receive an energy credit from DTE with the annual cost savings for the change estimated at $4,380.

The council approved the change at a cost of about $11,700. However, Skotarczyk received some good news after the meeting. 

“We will be able to use CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds,” he said. “This won’t actually cost the city anything.”

The conversion also will include taking exposed wires to an underground wiring system, which will help with the aesthetics of the area.

“It doesn’t give you a very attractive appearance,” Skotarczyk said of the exposed wires.