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A change in lighting leads to savings for taxpayers

Posted on 04/11/2017
A change in lighting leads to savings for taxpayers

When presented with the opportunity to utilize Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) funds for a project to save county taxpayer dollars, the Board of Commissioners jumped at the chance. The project: update the parking lot and outdoor lighting on county buildings from traditional light bulbs to LED bulbs.

“It seemed like such a simple task, but with more than 1,400 fixtures to convert, it was really quite a project,” said Commissioner Chair Julie Cozad. “When we looked at the numbers, though, it made sense.”

So throughout last year, Toby Taylor, Director of Buildings and Grounds, worked with Xcel Energy to calculate the benefits of the switch as well as the estimated cost savings to the county. “The calculations conducted by Xcel Energy showed the conversion to LED lighting would result in an annual energy savings of more than 516,000 kWh,” said Taylor. That amount could result in an estimated CO2 emission reduction of 382 tons and an approximate annual cost savings of $60,000.

In total, the county received $333,925 of SEP grant funding for this project, which involved converting 421 parking lot lights and 1,038 mounted exterior building lights.

“Without this funding, I’m not sure if or when the county would have made the change to LED fixtures for these areas,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, Coordinator for Buildings and Grounds in 2016. “Spending over $300,000 on light fixtures isn’t really at the top of our project list when we are focused on infrastructure projects and future capital expenditures such as expansion of the jail. The SEP funding, though, allowed us to take on this project and in turn save taxpayer dollars.”

The project was completed last fall and the final reporting to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the agency managing the funds, was submitted this year.

“It’s always great when we can save taxpayers money,” said Cozad, “but it’s also nice to know the funds used for this project allow Weld County government to be more energy efficient.”

Estimated monetary savings calculations based on the approximate annual energy savings in kWh
and an average kWh price of $0.12 for Colorado as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.