by Dennis Dalman
The Sartell City Council has agreed to a contract to retrofit the city’s light bulbs to LED technology, LED an acronym for “light-emitting diode.”
Part of Sartell’s current push for its Energy-Savings Program, the bulb-switching project is expected to save the city $1 million – and perhaps more – over a 20-year period.
At its May 14 city-council meeting, members voted 4-1 to approve the contract with Apex Energy, which will do the retrofit project. Two Apex spokespeople addressed the council, outlining updates to the proposal. They had met with the council several times before, and the LED energy-saving program has been discussed by council members and city staff many times at previous meetings.
The council voted 4-1 for the contract with Apex, with Mayor Sarah Jane Nicoll casting a no vote. She had said before the vote that she strongly favors retrofitting the fixtures in the city’s street lamps and at the Bernick’s Arena but not those at city hall or the public-facilities building. Other council members also most strongly favored the street lights and the Bernick’s lights but said they would just as soon see all the proposed projects done at once.
The total up-front cost of the project is about one-half million dollars and will be paid for out of the city’s street fund, said City Administrator Mary Degiovanni.
The energy savings are guaranteed by Apex, it was noted.
In the original proposal, it called for a city buy-out of street lighting owned by Stearns Electric, but at the May 14 meeting, the Apex spokespeople said the agreement with Stearns will not be final until possibly this fall. Apex also intends to meet with the city’s other energy supplier, Xcel Energy, to find out if that company would be amenable to a city buy-out of energy equipment.
The retrofit will cover all interior and exterior lighting, according to the contract. LED bulbs are vastly more energy efficient and longer-lasting than other kinds of light bulbs. Some council members did express concerns about the types of stark bright light LED bulbs emit, but one of the Apex spokespeople said advances in technology have made the bulbs emit a variety of softer and more pleasing lighting.
The retrofit of street lighting will provide a pay-back in nine years, according to Apex. That is, the money invested by the city will be recouped through energy savings in that period of time. The payback on retrofitting of city hall will be 16.3 years, it was noted.