More LED lights to brighten city streets

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 10, 2013

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St. Clair Shores will continue its partnership with DTE Energy to replace more of the city’s streetlights with LED lighting.

In 2012, the city was able to replace many streetlights in neighborhoods north of Martin Road — which were mercury vapor fixtures — with LED lights with help from an Energy Optimization (EO) Rebate for the upgrade.

Now, Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes said that there is another pool of EO dollars available to help the city replace most of the remaining neighborhood street lamps with LEDs, as well as some main street lights along Eight Mile Road and Beaconsfield, on the freeway ramps along I-94, and by Blossom Heath Park.

The city’s cost for the change would be $73,656. But the city currently spends $73,472 annually to pay for the cost to light the mercury vapor lamps. With LED lights, the annual charge is projected at $45,806, for an annual savings of $27,666. With an $18,649 rebate for the lights, the city is projected to pay off the expenditure with savings in just under two years.

“Our cost ends up being, really, $55,007,” said Mayor Kip Walby.

Rayes said the previous project is already saving the city $80,000 each year. And, he said, the LED lights don’t buzz the way the mercury vapor lamps do.

“They are very quiet,” he said. “They are brighter white. They give a sense of more light than the old lights do, and I think they give a better feeling of safety, too.”

He said St. Clair Shores is the municipality doing the largest installation of LED lights in southeast Michigan. The rate the city will pay to DTE will include maintenance, repair and replacement costs, if necessary. After the new installation, about 650 more mercury vapor fixtures will remain in the city. It would have cost $585,000 to replace them all and would have taken 4.66 years to recoup the investment. Rayes said he would continue searching for grant money to complete the project throughout the city.

A motion by Councilman Chris Vitale, supported by Councilman Ron Frederick, to proceed with the project, passed unanimously.

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