LED lighting project could save city millions

Budget time is just around the corner for the city of Dunkirk and officials are looking up for savings — literally up at the lights above their heads.
 
From the lights at facilities to on the street and at the softball stadium, LED Energy Solutions LLC recently presented its plan to replace fixtures and save the city money at the finance committee meeting.
LED downlight manufacturers Energy Solutions first project was in West Seneca, which was reported to be pleased with the work and the immediate savings as a result.
 
“LED is the future; we’re all going to LED, it’s just a matter of time. … The time to start to save is immediate, as soon as possible. And also because the energy companies are incentivizing and rebating going to LED,” Steve Hotz, president of LED Energy Solutions, said. “… If you chart it out over 20 years this will save the city $7 million. You can continue to operate the way you do today and give that money to the energy company or you can decide to keep that money your selves and find a place for it. The cost of waiting is the technology is here. We’re all going to LEDs. Every day that passes is a day closer to going to LEDs, so again, why not start saving now?”
 
The cost of the project was given at $1.06 million before a $100,000 rebate, which can be used as the city wishes. However, Hotz said this is further offset by the estimated $226,000 in estimated energy and maintenance savings.
 
The costs include buying back street lights from National Grid and disposal of outdated fixtures as well as a 10-year warranty on parts and labor.
 
“All these costs include the ‘soft costs’ like installation, shipping and handling. There’s no surprise, there’s not gotcha from that aspect,” Hotz said.
 
The project, which would be financed at 2.9 percent interest, would take five years for the city to pay back. In years one through five the city would still reap a savings of $12,500, according to Hotz. In years six to 10 and possibly beyond, the city could save as much as $252,000 a year, Hotz said.
 
It was explained these savings are based on the city’s $700,000 annual electric bill, over half of which is for lighting, as well as factoring in an annual escalator for the bills and maintenance costs.
 
It was also said electric companies can charge municipalities as much as $650 a year in maintenance per pole, of which the city has around 1,500, whether the lights need to be fixed or not. However, that exact figure for the city could not be produced. It was noted electricity costs about 11 cents per kilowatt hour and the city is charged about 30 cents per kilowatt hour on its poles, which includes that maintenance cost.
 
Another concern mentioned was whether this will conflict with the Siemens’ contract, which costs the city $19,500 quarterly. City Attorney Richard Morrisroe said he will look over that contract for exclusivity language, but in theory there shouldn’t be an issue.
 
Besides monetary benefits, Department of Public Works Director Randy Woodbury said he is excited about the environmental benefits.
 
“That we can do the green thing and save money is amazing,” he said.
 
Development Director Rebecca Yanus said by implementing the project, the city could qualify for a $50,000 state grant for wind or solar initiatives.
 
Hotz said his company tries to work with only American-manufactured parts. First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr. asked if they would be using local union electricians for the work. After a discussion with the company’s preferred electrician, Jeff Buzyniski of Buzyniski Electric, and confirming he will use a local union electric company for fill-in support, Williams said he was satisfied.
 
Councilman-at-Large Andy Woloszyn said he still had concerns.
 
“My reason for posing that question (about the financing) during the presentation was because at some point in time the people sitting at this table thought the Siemens’ deal was a great deal as well. Now, we’re sitting here all these years later, handcuffed by it, but who’s to say we won’t be in that same position again 10 or 15 years from now?” he said.
 
Rosas said he was looking for a sponsor for a resolution to bring this project before the Common Council for its meeting on Sept. 19.
 
“In my opinion, it’s in the city’s best interest that we move in this direction. When I sit down to do the budget, it’s almost budget time, it could buy the city an opportunity to reap the benefits. … Fiscally it’s a no brainer, so I want to push it to resolution,” he said.