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Grant could relight Main St.



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Bob Hahn, general manager of Lumecon LLC, explains LED lighting to the Independence Township Board. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
June 08, 2011 - Independence Township and Clarkston are hoping to save up to $12,000 a year combined by switching street lights to Light Emitting Diodes (LED), using a grant.

"If we're awarded the grant, we will save a minimum of 50 percent and probably closer to 60 percent of our electricity cost for the lights on Main Street," said City Manager Dennis Ritter.

The city has 41 Main Street lights between Clarkston and Waldon roads, costing about $12,000 annually. A switch to LED would cut it to $6,000-$7,200.

The city is seeking a $26,000 grant. The new lights should save the city that much in 4-6 years, Ritter said.

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"We're really excited about it financially," he said.

Linda Richardson, director of Independence Township Department of Public Works, said the township owns and maintains 107 street lights on Sashabaw Road between Maybee and Clarkston roads.

Energy cost in 2010 was $11,817 LEDs would save around $6,000. If they get the grant, Richardson said they would like to take out an additional loan and replace all township streetlights, including on M-15, Dixie Highway, and White Lake Road.

In order to receive the grant, a 10 percent match is required. Both the city and the township will do their own installation to satisfy state requirements. Richardson said the only cost to the general fund would be labor. She anticipates 120 hours at a cost of around $3,000.

Both municipalities should know within 30 days if they receive the grant. If the city doesn't get the grant, it probably won't participate, but Independence will probably still relight Sashabaw Road, Richardson said.

Bob Hahn, Clarkston resident and general manager of Lumecon LLC , said using LEDs produce the same amount of light using less than half the wattage. Replacing Sashabaw lights would reduce energy use from about 200 watts to 60 watts.

"LEDs are the most efficient at converting energy into light," he said.

Almost 95 percent of the energy is converted into visible light, he said.

"LED's don't waste any energy into the UV or infrared ranges. That's why at 60 watts they can mimic 175, because there is no waste," he said.

The grant requires lights to be made in Michigan.

"Being in the business, obviously it's something I do for a living, but I also want to practice what I preach and have it in our own town. DTE is raising rates and January 1 they're going up and they're going to keep going up," he said. "If we don't do this now, the budget crisis that's in the township and in the village is just going to get worse."

Hahn also said it's a way to reduce legacy costs.

"As opposed to taking the money and paying payroll this week with stimulus cash," he said. "Here's a way to leave your town in a better shape for your kids than when you were there."

Richardson agreed.

"I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't worth it," she said

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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