DEARBORN (WWJ) -- Frequently, the toughest thing about saving energy with modern, high-tech equipment is the up-front cost.
Adopt-A-Watt is changing that.
Dearborn's business and political leaders were on hand Friday morning for the formal dedication of 25 energy-efficient street lights and an electric vehicle charging station in the parking lot of the Henry Ford Centennial Library. The induction fluorescent lamps cut energy use 60 percent from the mercury vapor lamps they are replacing.
The hardware was donated to the city through the National Adopt-a-Watt Program. Modeled on the Adopt-A-Highway program, Adopt-A-Watt solicits corporate, nonprofit and foundation support for high-tech energy-saving equipment for increasingly cash-strapped municipalities.
It was the third Adopt-A-Watt installation for Dearborn. Last year, two municipal parking garages got energy-efficient lighting and EV charging stations under the program.
"Our partnership with Adopt-A-Watt has been outstanding and this is another example," Dearborn Mayor John B. O'Reilly Jr. said.
O'Reilly noted that even "in a challenging economy, in tough budget times, you still have to find ways to invest in the future." He called sustainable technology "transformative. This is where we have to go in the future. It's not just cost saving, it's reducing our carbon footprint and it is being more responsible."
And Julie Schaefer, deputy library director, noted that the Dearborn library -- which gets 800 to 1,000 visitors a day -- is a natural place to install modern energy technologies.
"What better place to get your questions answered than the public library?" she said. "So this is the perfect place for this technology. We think it's a perfect partnership."
Jennifer Mefford, director of business development for the National Electrical Contractors Association Southeastern Michigan Chapter and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58, credited workers from Dynalectric in Madison Heights for their work in the installation.
Tom Wither, founder of Adopt-A-Watt, said the idea for the organization came to him while driving and seeing Adopt-A-Highway signs. "The whole model is about no cost to taxpayers," he said. Wither is a former stockbroker as well as an inventor, with two United States patents and several others pending.
Wither told the crowd that Adopt-A-Watt has a long way to go in making America's lighting more efficient. "There are 40,000 parking structures in the United States and 134 million light poles, and only 4 percent of those light poles are energy efficient," Wither said.
Wither praised Dearborn as "the most progressively sustainable city in Michigan. We've been able to do things here in Dearborn that are really groundbreaking."
To learn more about Adopt-A-Watt, visit www.adopt-a-watt.com.
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