Dearborn launches nation’s 1st Adopt-A-Watt program

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Elizabeth Hughes, coordinator for the Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services Healthy Kids Project, spoke at a ceremony for the National Adopt-A-Watt Program sponsors Sept. 22 at the East Parking Structure on West Village Drive. The program is aimed at saving cities’ energy costs by installing energy-efficient light bulbs.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – A nationwide energy-saving program is getting its start in the city.

A reception for sponsors of the Adopt-A-Watt Program Sept. 22 at the East Parking Structure in the city’s west side recognized Dearborn as leaders for the program.

Dearborn is the first city in the country to use the energy-saving method, which allows for businesses or individuals to sponsor an energy-efficient light bulb by purchasing signs for $1,000 that will be on display in the parking structure.

Dearborn Sustainability Coordinator David Norwood said the city stands to save between 30 and 50 percent on its monthly energy bill, or between $360 and $900, depending on the performance of the bulbs.

“Collectively, what you have done with the adopted lights is save Dearborn 784,014 kilowatt hours in electricity costs,” Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Adopt-A-Watt, Inc. Thomas Wither said. “That will eliminate burning 300,000 pounds of coal. That makes a big difference.” He said the once the program has proven sustainability, more sponsors could begin to show their support. The first bulbs will be installed Nov. 1 in the east and west parking garages, leaving more time to gather sponsors, he said.

“We would hope they would see the advantages of (the program),” Wither said. “We expect to continue marketing and expanding this program over the years.”

Wither said the money from the sponsors will be used to install the lights in the first year. He added that there are also plans to add electric vehicle chargers in the next two to three years, which will help the city save on transportation costs when electric vehicles become more prominent.

“The demand for (electric vehicles) is greater than (manufacturers) anticipated,” Wither said. “A couple years from now, it’ll really be hitting the streets.” Norwood said the benefit of programs such as Adopt-A-Watt is saving general fund money. He added that the bulb’s performance in the parking structure will indicate if and where more bulbs will be installed.

“It’s an ability to raise some funds that aren’t general tax dollars and get some projects done,” he said. “We’re going to be watching it and monitoring it to see what happens.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at