Energy-efficient lights just the beginning

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — City officials recently had a bright idea for lighting in two parking decks in the west downtown area.

They recently announced that they will partner with National Adopt-A-Watt Program to provide energy-efficient “sponsorable” photovoltaic lights in the structures.

The program utilizes the principles of successful naming rights, logo and Adopt-A-Highway acknowledgment programs, within a public-private-partnership framework. It creates sponsoring opportunities for highly visible, “community-benefiting” lights and displays.

Money raised in excess of those costs fund new, energy-efficient electrical devices or pay for the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure, program officials say. All excess funding is used to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said in a statement that installing the lights will help the city save money. Installation is expected to begin sometime in the next 30 days, depending on the timing of donations from sponsors, city officials say.

“Dearborn is committed to green initiatives, but we must be conscious of our financial challenges.” O’Reilly said. “The Adopt-A-Watt program is a way for Dearborn to boost our energy-efficiency measures and install green technology without impacting our general fund.”

David Norwood, sustainability coordinator for the city, said local entities will bid online to sponsor the project, with $400 set as the minimum amount. He was unsure of the project’s final cost or how long the bidding process would take.

Thomas Wither, founder and principal of the Adopt-A-Watt program, said Dearborn is first city to use the lights in parking structures. The lights will help reduce costs by using less energy.

In addition to the lights, chargers for electric vehicles also will be installed, he said.

Savings add up to 71 percent of the city’s energy costs for the decks. Withers said those savings will allow for 28 electric electric vehicles to be charged per day.

The new lamps come at no cost to residents.