Event marks beginning of energy-saving program

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. throws the switch on about 100 new high-efficiency lights in the city’s east parking structure, 22310 West Village Drive, during an event Dec. 19. The lights, along with a electric vehicle charger, were installed with funds provided by companies working with Royal Oak-based Adopt-a-Watt, a program that gives the companies community recognition for use of clean energy.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – With the turn of a switch, Dearborn is hoping to become a greener place.

During a ceremony in the east parking garage in the city’s west downtown Dec. 19, city officials, business representatives and employees of Royal Oak-based Adopt-a-Watt Inc. dedicated the installation of about 100 new energy-saving bulbs and an electric vehicle charger.

The vehicle charger, one of 10 in the structure, provides power for city, commercial and personal electric vehicles. The charger was demonstrated by a Ford Transit Connect BEV, the first electric vehicle produced by Ford Motor Co.

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said by installing the new lights and charger, the city hopes for a balance between the retrofitting costs and savings.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can lessen our carbon footprint and get some good, long-term investment that will pay back over time,” he said.

Adopt-a-Watt founder Thomas Wither said the city benefits greatly from installing the new lights, which he said last five times longer than conventional bulbs and save money in energy costs.

“We’re providing better lighting than what was previously in (the garage),” he said.

In January, Dearborn announced a partnership with Adopt-a-Watt, becoming the first city in the United States to use the bulbs, which are expected to save the city between $5,000 and $9,000 per month on electricity costs.

The Adopt-a-Watt program allows businesses to purchase naming rights for visible lights and displays. The funds pay for the purchase of energy-efficient electric devices in an effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Representatives of businesses who sponsored the lights said they were happy to lend support.

“It’s really exciting just to be part of something that’s so good not only for our local economy but also for the environment,” Doubletree Hotel Sales and Catering Manager Stacy Yerby said. “It’s really exciting to see it in action.”

LaFontaine Automotive Group owner Mike LaFontaine said he is a firm believer in alternative energy and said the installation of the lights and electric car charger is a start.

“We believe in the technology and we’re happy to sponsor and participate,” he said. “This is the way it’s going, there can be more and more hybrid electronic vehicles.”