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Warren to go all in with LED streetlights

Officials say conversion of remaining 6,329 lights would save money annually

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published April 8, 2015

 Warren officials said converting to all LED streetlights would eventually save the city about $500,000 annually.

Warren officials said converting to all LED streetlights would eventually save the city about $500,000 annually.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — Converting Warren’s remaining old-style streetlights to more efficient LEDs would cost a projected $2 million up front but would eventually save the city annually, Mayor Jim Fouts said late last month.

The mayor sent a proposal for the recommended conversion of the city’s existing 6,329 mercury vapor lights to the Warren City Council on March 24, when it was unanimously approved.

According to a project background summary released by the Mayor’s Office, about 55 percent of Warren’s 11,587 streetlights are still the mercury vapor variety. The summary indicated that the city spends about $3.2 million annually for municipal lighting.

A proposed five-year plan to replace the city’s remaining old-style lights would cost about $2 million but would save the city almost $500,000 in lighting costs over that period. The city projected a total savings of $3,892,949 over the next 15 years, beginning in 2015.

The conversion was expected to begin in June with 607 streetlights in an area bordered by Van Dyke, Hoover, Eight Mile and Stephens.

Fouts said the brighter lights would improve safety in that area and others.

“LED street lighting provides our residents, business owners and public safety personnel with brighter and safer streets that are environmentally friendly,” Fouts said. “With DTE’s cooperation, we have concentrated our initial efforts on neighborhood streetlights in higher crime rate areas to deter crime and improve neighborhood safety.”

All of Warren’s neighborhood streetlights are expected to be converted by 2019.

DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons confirmed that the city’s projections of the project scope, cost and savings are correct.

Warren CitiStat Coordinator Sean Clark told council members the conversion project represents a “win, win, win” for the city.

“We’re utilizing DTE labor contributions with EO (energy optimization) rebates from the state of Michigan. It’s to help bring us forward in our energy optimization efforts with the city, and especially our street lighting program,” Clark said. “It’s a very significant savings on a budget of $3.2 million every year.”

Clark and other administration officials met with council members and representatives from DTE for a committee session ahead of the council meeting to discuss the plan in detail. State Rep. Derek Miller, D-District 28, sits on Michigan’s House Committee on Energy and also attended the committee meeting.

Earlier this year, Fouts called on state officials to oppose DTE’s request for a rate hike that he said would discourage more municipalities from switching to LED technology.

Clark said the costs included in the city’s projections are in line with the figures cited in DTE’s rate case filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission, and thus represent a worst-case scenario of savings and costs for the city.

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