Though the rural city of Russell, Minn., isn’t large in size, the opportunity to save money by using more-energy-efficient lighting technology was of great interest to its nearly 350 residents, as well as its utility company, Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative, headquartered in nearby Tyler. When energy and maintenance costs for the city’s existing streetlights became excessive, the Lyon-Lincoln team reached out to PowerSecure Lighting and its EnergyLite division for a high-performing LED solution that would deliver outstanding efficiency, long life and maintenance-free operation.
Russell is one of three towns whose electricity is provided through Lyon-Lincoln, an electric co-op that serves 3,600 households within a 1,600-square-mile section of southwest Minnesota. “Lyon-Lincoln serves a very agricultural area, and most of our members there are small-town residents or farmers,” shared Brian Jeremiason, Manager of Energy Services for the nonprofit Lyon-Lincoln, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014. “Each member owns a share in the co-op, and any profits get allocated back to the membership. Our goal is to provide reliable service for the best possible cost and to reduce costs for members, which is part of the reason a lighting upgrade made sense for us.”
Lit by a collection of outdated 175-watt mercury-vapor and high-pressure sodium fixtures, “the lamps in the city’s 100-plus streetlights cast a yellow glow and were consuming a lot of energy,” Jeremiason said. “We also wanted a solution that would last longer and reduce the need for maintenance, because our co-op’s 17 employees are all stretched to capacity. It wasn’t efficient for us to send two linemen out to change bulbs – the costs really added up.”
While Jeremiason confirmed that LEDs were a technology that the co-op wanted to investigate, “we weren’t sure which LED model, design or brand was ideal for our application, so we worked with RESCO [Rural Electric Supply Company] to identify products that would meet our needs,” he said. After developing a schematic of the city’s street lighting and discussing their project with design specialists from RESCO, who offered three to four products for consideration, team members agreed that EnergyLite’s 5700K, 48-watt SecureLite LED for roadway applications was the ideal technology for their requirements. They confirmed this using photometric measurements prepared by EnergyLite experts.
Offering a Type III distribution pattern, which involves a forward throw of light onto a street, with additional light distribution around the back of the pole to illuminate a sidewalk, SecureLite LEDs additionally feature an ambient light sensor, two-level transient surge protection and the option of remote infrared controllability. Designed with an all-aluminum housing for maximum heat transfer and durability, and delivering 10 to 20 years or more of maintenance-free operation in outdoor temperature conditions ranging from -40°C to 50°C, SecureLite LEDs optimally support dusk-to-dawn applications within a variety of roadway settings.
According to Jeremiason, “We also liked that SecureLite LEDs were customizable – we were able to get our fixtures with 6-foot ‘pigtails,’ which made installation quick because the wiring harnesses were already attached.”
Involving an easy one-for-one switch-out from the previous technology, the lighting upgrade was conducted by Lyon-Lincoln’s maintenance team over a three-day period in May 2014. “We went from standard yellow security lights to lights that are whiter, brighter and clearer,” Jeremiason said. “The light spreads out nicely, provides good coverage and definitely enhances visibility on the streets at night, especially downtown, where community events are held.” On top of improved quality of light, “we’re forecasting energy savings of more than 61,000 kWh per year – which has translated to $16.50 in savings per resident per year – along with the ongoing maintenance savings that the upgrade will deliver to the co-op as a whole. As a result,” he continued, “we’ve heard only positive comments about the new lighting from residents and city council members.”
“Light levels in mercury-vapor and high-pressure sodium lamps typically depreciate as they age, but LEDs deliver a consistent lighting pattern for their entire lives, which can be 10 years or more,” shared Chris Pederson, RESCO’s Regional Vice President. “Based on the products we reviewed with the team at Lyon-Lincoln, EnergyLite’s SecureLite LEDs fit the bill the best – ensuring us high-quality lighting, great long-term savings and ROI.
“At RESCO, we do a lot of work with SecureLite LEDs. They’re a good-quality product, which really gives the town a nice-looking light pattern, enhances clarity and visibility, and creates a safer environment,” Pederson continued. “And EnergyLite is a very good company – it did a great job, and the team was very responsive and followed the project all the way through.”
Based on the success of the co-op’s upgrade, Jeremiason has big plans for LEDs in the served area. “LEDs are the future, and we’re currently in the process of upgrading all of the security lights we provide to each household in Russell with LED technology,” he said. “We’re also looking to upgrade to LEDs in other towns in our co-op.”
In terms of the upgrade in Russell: “EnergyLite has been everything we hoped for, providing improved lighting and enhanced safety and security at a much reduced cost,” Jeremiason said. “Overall,” he concluded, “it’s a project we’re happy we went forward with and one that’s been great for both our co-op and the community.”