LED Bring Big Savings to County
by Gus Jarvis
Sep 20, 2012 | 757 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – New energy efficient LED tube lights, installed at the start of this year on the third floor of San Miguel County’s Miramonte Administrative Offices in Telluride, are already showing impressive savings, both in energy and cost.

The pilot project, led by Nina Kothe, administrator for the San Miguel County Commissioners and the county’s energy Action coordinator, entailed retrofitting the lighting fixtures on the third floor of the Miramonte offices with highly efficient Light-Emitting Diode tube lights was completed at the beginning of 2012. Now, the evaluations of eight months of energy-use data shows that the cost and energy savings so far have exceeded expectations.

The lights have provided a 22 percent reduction in energy usage in just eight months 

(because the building’s third floor is connected with an energy meter separate from the rest of the building, the reduction in energy usage is easily isolated). Based on 2011 total energy expenses for that meter, Kothe said the 22 percent reduction will reflect about $2,040 in savings for the county annually. On top of that, she said, savings on demand tariffs could be significant as well coming somewhere between $1,000-$2,000 annually.

“The county has been trying hard to reduce its energy usage,” Kothe said on Monday. “So far this pilot project has exceeded our expectations. It’s only been in place for eight months, and the average for that eight months is a 22 percent reduction. That’s much better than we expected.”

The cost of retrofitting the buildings light fixtures and the price of each LED light tube (about $75) is expensive, Kothe said, but with the savings the county is already seeing it won’t be long before the savings outweigh the costs.

The county funded approximately $10,000 for the LED tubes and the installation. A grant from the state’s energy program and a rebate from the San Miguel Power Association totaling more than $6,000 was also used to pay for the program. Judging by the savings the county has seen so far from the lights, the payoff based on the $10,000 expense from the county is five years. And with an expected lifespan of each LED tube estimated to be 50,000 hours or 20 years the cost savings will continue for many more years after that.

Kothe also anticipates significant savings in maintenance costs due to the longevity of the new lights.

“Everybody that works here has adjusted to the lights and is happy with them,” she said. “So far there has been no complaints about the quality of light.”

“We are really proud of the work Nina has been doing,” Commissioner Art Goodtimes said. “It’s part of our overall plan to work toward more energy efficiency and better use of electricity.”

Both Goodtimes and Kothe said the energy savings totaled so far will hopefully serve as an example to businesses and homeowners that such energy projects is worth it despite seemingly high up front expenses.

“This is exactly what the county government should do,” Goodtimes said. “Take the lead on using a new technology and then see if the private sector can jump on it as well. Nobody wants to be the first to try these things but that’s what government can do. In this case we are seeing huge savings. It was expensive on the front end but huge savings are coming in a quick timeframe.”

With the proven savings of the lights, Kothe said more LED light retrofitting is in the future including the second floor of the Miramonte building and then, at some point, the San Miguel County Courthouse.

gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter: @GusGusJ

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