Town of Vail looks to cut its lighting costs |

Town of Vail looks to cut its lighting costs

What’s a kilowatt hour?

The kilowatt hour is the most common way to bill for electricity use. Measurement gets complicated, but one kilowatt-hour of electricity will power a 1,000-watt space heater at full power for an hour, or a 100-watt old-style light bulb for 10 hours.

VAIL ­— A grant from Holy Cross Energy may help the town of Vail meet an old goal of cutting its energy use by 2020.

The town in 2007 adopted a goal of reducing its energy use by 20 percent by 2020. A project completed a couple of years ago brought a 12 percent reduction by looking at energy use in town.

That project didn’t address streetlights and other fixtures, though. More research, and work with a company called Illuminex, a Denver-area company, resulted in a grant application this past fall to Holy Cross Energy as part of the utility’s Think Big program, which provides grants to projects with the potential for big energy savings.

The town was awarded one of the Think Big grants, for about $170,000. That would leave the town with about a $300,000 bill for the rest of the project, but town public works director Greg Hall on Tuesday told the Vail Town Council that there’s about $225,000 left over from the previous project. That money could be applied to the current idea.


If the project gets council approval, it could save the town more than 1 million kilowatt-hours of energy use every year. That savings means the payback on the initial changeover to bulbs that use light-emitting diodes — LEDs — would be roughly four years.

The LED bulbs are generally more expensive than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, though — costing as much as $40 each.

If the town goes through with the project, it will get it to an 18 percent reduction in energy use from 2007 levels by 2015.

Hall said the next step in the energy use project would be town-operated snowmelt systems. Improving efficiency there could get the town the rest of the way toward its goal.

While the four-year payback sounds good, council member Greg Moffet asked Hall to look farther into the future, estimating costs and savings over 10 years. And mayor Andy Daly asked Hall to approach the costs and savings calculations from an “investment perspective.”

Hall said he’d do that, adding that further study would also include the amount of time the bulbs are burning.

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