For Immediate Release: November 2, 2011
Media Contact: Susanne Garfield - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Approves Nearly $2 Million
For Lighting Improvements in 4 Cities

SACRAMENTO - Four California cities will make major improvements to their lighting systems using low-interest loans approved today by the California Energy Commission. The four loans total nearly $2 million and include federal stimulus funding from the US Department of Energy.

"These lighting projects provide simple, effective ways to cut energy waste and save taxpayer dollars," said Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller. "New lights improve public safety and reduce maintenance costs, and the projects more than pay for themselves by immediately lowering electricity bills."

Energy Commission funding comes from Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA) which provides low-interest loans for local governments, public and private non-profit schools and hospitals, public care institutions and other agencies for energy efficiency and energy-producing projects. The program is bond-funded. Additional federal stimulus funding for the loans comes from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Four cities are receiving loans:

  • The City of Ceres (Stanislaus County) will use the largest loan - $1,193,500 - to convert more than 2,200 high-pressure sodium and mercury vapor street lights to energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) street lights. The project will save Ceres approximately $108,500 in electricity costs each year and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 346 tons of CO2 annually. The total cost of the project is $1,258,508; the $65,008 balance not covered by the loan will come from utility incentives. Ceres can repay the loan in 11 years from the energy savings alone.

  • The City of Burlingame (San Mateo County) will receive a loan of $458,633 to replace 767 of its high-pressure sodium street lights with LED models. The new longer-lasting LED street lights will reduce Burlingame's electricity bill by roughly $57,500 a year and cut its greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 124 tons of CO2 annually. Burlingame can pay back the loan from the energy savings in less than eight years.

    Earlier in the year Burlingame received a federal $150,010 ARRA grant to replace a portion of its old streetlights with efficient LED lamps. It also upgraded the lighting at the fire station, police department, corporate yard, the city garage and the library - improvements that saved Burlingame nearly $29,000 a year in energy costs and reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by almost 76 tons of CO2 a year.

  • The City of Kerman (Fresno County) will use a $202,000 loan to replace the high-pressure sodium lamps and metal halide lamps in approximately 718 street lights with LED modules. Kerman earlier received $72,075 as part of a larger ARRA grant that was divided among 24 small cities included in the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Collaborative. Kerman's portion was just large enough to allow the city to replace 138 streetlights. Kerman requested the additional loan approved today to allow it to retrofit all 718 of its streetlights citywide. The entire project is estimated to save $26,364 in utility costs annually, enabling Kerman to pay off the loan just from the electricity savings in less than eight years. The resulting reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is expected to equal 75 tons of CO2 per year.

  • The City of Salinas (Monterey County) will receive a $128,534 loan to help it replace inefficient high-pressure sodium lamps and metal halide lights with LED lamps and fluorescent lights at its Salinas Street Garage and its Monterey Street Garage facilities. Total cost of the project is estimated to be $200,070; the Energy Commission loan will cover materials. Salinas will also receive $33,000 in incentives from its utility, PG&E. The completed project will reduce the city's annual energy bill by an estimated $44,265, allowing Salinas to repay the loan in less than 3 years from the energy savings alone. The lighting retrofit will reduce Salinas' greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 83 tons of CO2 per year.

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.

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