MICHIGAMME — According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners who switch to LED lights can see a seventy five percent energy savings over incandescent bulbs. One Upper Peninsula township has been utilizing LEDs to help save energy on a bigger scale.
Michigamme Township switched from high pressure sodium street lights to starlight–friendly LED lights in some areas during a downtown revitalization project undertaken in late 2014. In addition to aiding residents with their view of the night sky, the LEDs provide a positive financial impact.
“Basically, it was $200 a month for the utility–owned flat–rate lights, and these LED street lights are $20 a month to operate,” said Michigamme Township Supervisor Alvar Maki.
The conversion hasn’t been painless. Some residents have voiced displeasure with the fact that the lights — which are mounted at a different height than the previous ones — don’t provide as much ambient light to their yards. Additionally, the previous lights were maintained by the utility company, while responsibility for maintenance of the new lights falls to the township.
“Now these are our lights. We own them, we maintain them,” added Maki, “but I think if you look at the big picture, I don’t know that we’re going to be spending $2,200 a year just in maintenance, so I think that it’ll go to the better side.”
More LEDs could be added in the future as funds become available. The township has also taken on other energy–saving projects, including a switch to propane and installation of higher efficiency furnaces at township facilities.