With a grant provided through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative (CWEC) recently completed a project that replaced approximately 100 street lights with LED lights in the village of Tigerton.
REAP provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of clean energy projects. It’s direct project grants provide funding to purchase, install, and construct a renewable energy or energy efficiency project.
The grant for the project was applied for by CWEC. We became aware of the availability of the grant for the Tigerton light project while we were working on a different grant.
“I inquired to see if this (Tigerton project) would qualify and it did,” said Dennis Magee, line manager for CWEC. “They didn’t think it was going to qualify because it wasn’t as big of a project, but it actually did.”
Magee said CWEC started the application process for the grant, and informed the village of Tigerton about the application.
“They were good with it,” Magee said.
CWEC received $13,417 through the grant to replace the 150-watt high-pressure sodium light fixtures with energy efficient 82-watt LED light fixtures. The arms holding the lights were also replaced. The LED lights are Department of Transportation approved, which means that the bulbs are designed to be used as street lights, and cause less glare to drivers on the road.
“LED lighting is truly a win-win for the community and the cooperative,” said Mike Wade, president and CEO of CWEC. “The light-emitting diodes have a longer life than traditional high-pressure sodium lamps and produce a better light pattern and color. They use less energy and will require less maintenance. We will continue to replace our older outdoor lights with LED until our entire system is LED.”
John Bestul, CWEC service foreman, who did the work removing the old lights and installing the new lights, said Tigerton residents he spoke with like the new lights, with some pointing out the new LED lights are brighter than the old lights.
LED lighting offers a clean and eco-friendly lighting that provides a significant electricity and maintenance savings to both communities and its residents.
Magee said that one of the stipulations of the grant is that the energy savings has to be documented.
The new LED lights also benefit CWEC because the lights will require less maintenance.
“The LEDs we have seem to be really working well, and last well,” Magee said. “We’re not doing as much maintenance so we’re saving the co-op money and labor.”
Bestul estimates he spent more than 80 hours working on the project.
“With the whole process, we were also able to find and fix a lot of little issues and clean some of the poles up and give them a cleaner look,” Bestul said.
Magee added that it is important for CWEC to do projects like this in communities it serves.
“We want to show that we want to be energy efficient too, just like everybody else,” Magee said.
Wade added, “I am grateful to the USDA for making grant programs like REAP available to electric co-ops so that we have an economical means to move to energy saving devices like LED lights.”
(This article appeared in the May issue of Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News)