LED lighting program to save city of Prairie du Chien money

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By Correne Martin

The city of Prairie du Chien started an exterior LED lighting program in 2013 with goals of becoming more energy efficient and saving money. These days, the program is about 95 percent complete, according to Co-Manager of Public Works Terry Meyer.  

“This fall, we did from Main Street west on Blackhawk Avenue, including Water Street, all of the (Highway 18) bypass and all of the city-owned lights on St. Feriole Island,” Meyer noted. “We have a couple parking lots to go yet and some small miscellaneous lights, like the ones in front of city hall, but that’s all we have left.”

LED bulbs draw less power, cost less per year in energy and maintenance, and last up to 50,000 hours, which is much longer than a typical incandescent, Meyer pointed out. The upfront cost of LEDs is higher, yet payback takes roughly three years, he said, and then the city begins saving money.

In total, the exterior LED lighting program has consisted of 68 street and park retrofit lighting and fixtures. The project has an anticipated reduction of consumption by 56,561 kilowatt hours per year, which equals a 3.1 percent reduction in the city’s overall annual electrical use, moving it closer to its goal of 20 percent reduction by 2020.

Prairie du Chien has applied through the Wisconsin Office of Energy for a $10,000 grant toward its overall LED project and has yet to receive word on whether the grant will be awarded or not. Senator Jennifer Shilling has written a letter of support for the city in its attempt to secure the grant. These dollars would shorten the payback time.

The recent 2014 Marquette Road project as well as the summer of 2015 Ohio Street project in Prairie du Chien both received LED lighting. The Michigan Street project, which is one of those next on the city’s to-do list, and the remainder of Marquette Road slated for 2017 (or possibly 2018 due to state budget cuts) are anticipated to include LED lighting installations.

“This is just a great opportunity and a great energy reduction program for the city,” Meyer stated. “We’re saving money and helping the environment at the same time.”

Yearly energy savings on an annual basis are expected to be $6,787, while yearly maintenance savings should be around $1,185 for a total yearly savings of $7,972. The majority of the funds for the exterior LED lighting program were part of the 2014-2016 capital budget.

Furthermore, the city has upgraded its interior lighting at the street, fire and wastewater departments to LED or high-efficient bulbs, thanks to its position as a pilot community for Alliant Energy’s Shared Savings program. Plus, it is working on making its fleet fuels more energy efficient through Wisconsin Clean Cities grants.

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