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Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

45 new LED lights at Ann Arbor's maintenance facility expected to reduce energy costs by 60%

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor plans to install 45 new LED light fixtures in the parking lot of the Wheeler Service Center, the city's maintenance facility on Stone School Road.

City officials said the wattage for each fixture is being reduced from 400 to 165 watts, reducing maintenance expenses as well as the cost of energy by 60 percent.

The city predicts the average annual savings will be about $5,106, including $4,246 in energy savings and $860 in maintenance savings on labor and equipment.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted this week to approve using $30,870 in federal grant funds to purchase the LED fixtures from Hamtramck-based Caniff Electric.


The city of Ann Arbor began its move to LED lights with the conversion of 1,000 downtown streetlights through a grant from the Downtown Development Authority.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The city accepted a $1.24 million energy efficiency grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in December 2009 that will pay for the lights. The grant doesn't require a local funding match.

City officials pointed out the grant period ends March 7, so this is one of the last purchases expected under the grant. They said it brings the total grant utilization to more than 93 percent.

Nathan Geisler, the city's energy programs associate, said in order to achieve energy and maintenance savings, the city's field operations unit began the process of converting all city-owned streetlights to LED fixtures in 2007. The project began with the conversion of 1,000 downtown streetlights through a grant from the Downtown Development Authority.

"This effort was then expanded to include the conversion of the city-owned streetlights outside of the DDA using funding from various state and federal grant funding sources," Geisler wrote in a memo to council. "Opportunities to achieve energy savings through converting conventional lights to LEDs on city properties helps continue to advance these efforts."

All 45 of the new LED lights — spread out across 14 acres of lot space — will be used to replace existing fixtures located at the Wheeler Service Center. City officials said the fixture locations are included on the site plan approved by Pittsfield Township, which has jurisdiction over the site.

A grand opening for the city's new field operations and maintenance facility at the Wheeler Service Center was held on Sept. 29, 2007.

The project included an operations building (39,000 square feet), vehicle storage building (65,000 square feet), maintenance garage (40,000 square feet), salt storage dome, and fueling facility.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:21 p.m.

I hope that's not a photo of the lights being used. Fully half the light and energy wasted pointed upward, further polluting our views of the night sky. Full cut off lighting is the only way to go!!!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

The LEDs are great but why is there no directional focus? Beaming light into the night sky adds to light pollution and wastes energy.

say it plain

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Just please keep the LED lights off the roads and streets. They are terrible as actual *lighting*, illuminating in an odd distracting way the 10 feet of pavement directly underneath, and throwing very little anywhere else. I don't know anything about the induction lighting @jayjay speaks of, but if it's better as *light*, let's consider it!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

Hi Ryan - Good article, but the officials are bragging on a 60% energy savings after investing big(?) bucks on new lights that product 59% less light (165 watts vs. 400)? I can't resist going out on a limb and suggesting "why not just replace the old lights with 60% lower wattages when they burned out?". Maybe they could tell us what the break-even point is for the whole effort?


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

Excellent responses - next time I'll take that extra cup of coffee before posting !

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

The level of illumination is expected to remain the same, from what I understand.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

Watt is the electrical measurement. Lumen is the light measurement.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

They are saying the power consumed for each fixture is being dropped from 400W to 165W, but do not say what the change in the amount of light produced from each fixture is. For instance, a home incandescent 100W bulb emits maybe 1,600 lumens of light, and a CFL bulb might only consume about 30W to emit that much light.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Seriously, what was the net cost of these, calculated against the savings per year and when will we break even? Factor in the service life will we break even before they need to be replaced?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

Actually, service life is one of the main factors in choosing LED. Most people won't buy an LED for their home when compared with a CFL because the LED uses only a little less energy and the difference is price does not seem to justify that. The push for CFL over traditional bulbs was based on MUCH lower energy usage and much longer service life. In the LED v CFL comparison, LED has less energy usage (but not hugely so) but still has the much longer service life. I don't know what promises were made in Tecumseh, nor do I know what type of lighting they were replacing; but it is possible that some were expecting huge operating savings immediately and that just may not be the case. Maybe much of the savings predicted was in the service life aspect.

Linda Peck

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Over 1 million dollars to save 5 thousand a year. That is a lot of dough for these LEDs. How long to recoup? Well, perhaps the buildings will be torn down before much recoup could be realized. If we want to save on energy, lets find alternate energy courses for DTE. Let's plant hemp and save trees. Let's put solar up. But then, again, it is the Feds putting it up and we are just the takers. And the losers.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

This is ONE purchase, or one piece, of the total $1 million dollar grant. Other purchases were made from the grant, including the 1,000 downtown streetlights mentioned in the article. Presumably there are savings from all of those as well. Geez.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

It sure beats Art!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Seems like a good deal. We get free money and save big $$ on energy costs, maybe with a payback period of 1-2 years. I know, Ann Arbor isn't paying for it, it's all our generous taxpayers. But if this is such a good deal, why doesn't Ann Arbor sink their own money into expanding the use of LEDs for all its lighting? Divert money from say Art "investments" into saving real bucks on energy and really helping out the climate.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

Sorry dconkey. Those comments on free money were all tongue in cheek.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

Uh Tom, Free Money? Really? It is money that is being added to the National Debt. There is no such thing as free money.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Ryan, Check out Tecumseh again, i think they are unhappy with the expensive LED lights and are looking to go to something else. They didn't produce the big savings in usage as advertised.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

They could have saved even more if they had gone to induction lighting, but the easy choice is always go for the latest fashion, which is LED. You'll see a lot more of induction lighting in the future as people realize that is a better alternative to LED in most cases. Just ask the cities that have done studies comparing LED and induction lighting, and then opted for induction Lighting -- there is a real reason, actually several reasons, but let's not facts get in the way! They only tend to complicate the decision process and make people defensive.

Ann English

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

I learned about light-emitting diodes in electronic security class, but perhaps you know if induction lighting could be used in electronic security alarms the way light-emitting diodes are used today.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

Good to see the city of Ann Arbor doing something along this regard. On the other end of the spectrum, the University leaves the Stadium lights (including the brand new scoreboard, which alternatively shows clips and some lame screen saver) lit 24-7.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 4:01 a.m.

Just to clarify, I drive by it a couple of times a week, sometimes in the day and sometimes at night, but I don't purposefully look at it on a regular basis to see if it is on or not. However, I would assume that at the size they are, if they were on at night I would have noticed. The last 2 times I have specifically looked at the scoreboards during the day they have not been on.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:52 a.m.

I drive by it a couple of times a week and I attend events at Crisler.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

ThinkingOne- Do you work/live in a position to look at the scoreboards on a daily basis?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

It has been quite a while since I have seen the scoreboards operating; although I imagine they are probably bringing them up now for the Polar Plunge on Saturday.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

It's uom... money means nothing, no reason required. At the other end of the spectrum, they also enjoy blasting with their sound systems to entertain workers and practice-ers