Ypsilanti plans to switch to LED street lights
Several Ypsilanti street lights will be converted to LED lights soon as the city pursues a special assessment district to help cover electricity costs.
The street light conversions are part of two DTE Energy programs that will save the city about $23,000 annually.
AnnArbor.com file photo
The Ypsilanti City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to participate in the two programs and to move forward with the special assessment district.
City Manager Ralph Lange is expected to give a presentation at council's Feb. 19 meeting outlining the costs and specifics of the special assessment district, which would encompass the entire city.
Rough estimates from city staff said the district could generate around $500,000 and cost most residents an additional $85 annually. Lange said Eastern Michigan University would likely pay a large amount of money due to the number of lights on its campus.
"EMU has been made aware of this effort because they will be the biggest payer," Lange said.
Possible options for the assessment include a flat flee, irrespective of parcel size; fees based upon the average parcel area; or fees based upon the perimeter.
In March, a public hearing will be held, allowing residents the right to file objections. If property owners representing more than 50 percent of the expected cost of the assessment file objections, the project may not proceed without the affirmative vote of four-fifths of all of the council members.
Separate from the special assessment district, Stan Kirton, director of public services, met with DTE Community Lighting Division representatives Jeff LeBrun and Tim Miller in January to discuss the two new programs that DTE is rolling out this year.
The first program, the Series Circuit Conversion Program, entails replacing the city's series circuit. This program will be done at no labor cost to the city and DTE will replace twenty-nine, 400-watt mercury vapor lights and seven, 250-watt mercury vapor lights.
DTE has offered the option for the city to upgrade the lights to LED lights and the estimated cost for this upgrade is approximately $360 per light fixture.
The current annual energy cost for those 36 lights is $18,558.48 and after the LED conversion, the annual cost will drop to $11,211.74. DTE estimates the return on investment will be approximately 1.77 years.
"When we first started LED lighting, the payback was nine to 10 years," said DTE account manager Tim Miller said. "That’s a big difference."
The second program, the Mercury Vapor to LED Conversion Program, converts the city's mercury vapor lights to LED light fixtures and DTE has offered to convert 224 lights.
"We have specifically targeted communities," Miller said. "It's not being offered to everyone... We are contributing labor to do this as well."
The approximate cost to the city for the LED conversions will be $67,282.
The current annual energy cost for those 224 lights is $49,721.76, and after the LED conversion, the cost will drop to $33,172.44 annually. The return on investment will be approximately 3.18 years.
Since the city is participating in both programs, DTE will grant about $19,090 in rebates, bringing the total cost for the city down to $61,184. Without the rebates, the total would be about $80,274.
DTE Energy regional manager Paul Ganz said Ypsilanti is the first community in the Detroit service area to participate in the programs.
"I was thrilled when I heard about this application," Ganz said. "This is a wonderful program and the payback is really quick."
Ganz said DTE has not yet set a timeline for when the installations will begin, though more information should be available in the coming weeks.
The 2012-13 fiscal year budget includes $50,000 for LED conversions of streetlights, and Kirton said the remaining balance of $11,184 can either be paid for with the energy refund he expects the city to receive from DTE or by allocating money for streetlight conversions in the 2013-14 budget.
Participation in the programs will eliminate all mercury vapor lights east of Huron Street.
"We are attacking the most inefficient ones first to get the most bang for our buck," Lange said.