Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Darwin goes green with new LED Christmas lighting

Dec. 8, 2008

Darwin to receive $850 grant for lights

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

DARWIN, MN - For its first Christmas season, the streets of Darwin are lined with energy-saving LED (light-emitting diode) lights.

In an effort to go green and save some money down the road, the City of Darwin chose to replace 1,925 incandescent bulbs in 22 of its Christmas decorations with energy-saving, cost-efficient, LED light bulbs.

Jill Holte, public works, replaced each bulb before Pat Hansen of Bonniwell Electric put up the decorations the day after Thanksgiving.

According to numbers from Meeker Cooperative Light and Power Association, an LED light bulb uses less than one watt of energy, while a regular incandescent light bulb uses seven watts of energy.

It’s been calculated the old incandescent lighting would cost $285 to run per season, seven hours a day for six weeks.

This year, the LED Christmas lights will cost just over $40 for the season since the lights will run for eight hours at night – dusk until midnight. That’s an energy savings of about $245 a season.

“That’s quite a big savings,” said Becky Sorenson, communications specialist for Meeker Cooperative.

“That’s why we promote LEDs – they cost more outright . . . but after the initial cost is paid for, you continue to save quite a bit,” Sorenson added.

To help pay for the new lights, Darwin is expecting to receive an $850 grant through Meeker Cooperative.

With the rebate and cost savings from less electricity used, it is estimated the lights will have paid for themselves in about three years.

Though it’s hard to compare lights from last year to the new LED lights installed this year, council member Patti Burdick said the blue and green lights appear brighter.

Sorenson commented, after taking photos of the new decorative lighting, that the lights appeared “vivid, bright, and colorful.”

According to Sorenson, LED lighting is the way to go – not only do they last up to 10 times longer, but they also are more shock resistant.

For example, if a light bulb is burned out on a string of incandescent lights, the whole string tends to go out. With the LED strings, the whole string won’t be affected by one burned out bulb, Sorenson explained.

Meeker Cooperative has seen more and more customers switch over to LED lighting in their homes, according to Sorenson.

LED lights come in all different sizes and colors, making it easy to replace incandescent light bulbs in the home, Sorenson explained.

“The more [LED] lighting you use in your home, the more savings you will see,” she said.

“It’s to [the homeowners] benefit to use LEDs,” Sorenson said.

Meeker Co-op energy conservation grants

Darwin is one of 21 Meeker Cooperative customers who have been approved for the electric association’s energy conservation grant program, according to Darrell Ward, marketing manager for Meeker Co-op.

If qualified, commercial industrial customers can receive assistance for a number of energy conserving projects. Some projects include lighting retrofit, welder machine replacements, plate coolers for dairy, variable speed drives for electric motors, and vending machine misers with have occupant sensors.

For more information, contact Ward at (320) 693-3231 or toll free at (800) 232-6257.


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