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Efficient lighting coming to 60 city buildings through stimulus money

Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Michelle Jimenez

The city is making the Palmer Events Center a greener place thanks to $7.5 million in federal stimulus money that officials are using to make municipal buildings more energy efficient.


The city announced this week that it has begun installing high-efficiency lighting at the events center and plans to do the same at half a dozen other buildings during the next few weeks. In all, some 60 city buildings will receive lighting upgrades over two years, Carlos Cordova, spokesman for Austin Energy, told In Fact Daily this week.


The federal money will also go toward a host of other energy-saving projects, including recalibrating and/or reprogramming equipment so that it is functioning optimally.


“The significance is that they’re big projects, they’re not small projects, and we’re going to be able to see energy savings right away with some of these projects,” he said. “Lighting upgrades are one of the easiest things you can do to save energy immediately.”


The federal money, which was awarded in January, will help the city in its goal of making Austin a “greener” place by 2020. In April, the City Council adopted energy goals that included reducing overall energy use in Austin by 800 mega-watts — the equivalent of a large power plant — over the next decade.


The stimulus money will pay for projects that, together, could save 5 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year, or enough energy to power 400 homes for a year.


The city will hire contractors to do the lighting replacements and expects the projects will lead to the creation of about 100 manufacturing, skilled-trade, and other jobs. Cordova said he didn’t know how many local jobs would be created. He said Austin Energy would hire several new employees, including some to help inspect the contractors’ work.


At the events center, the city is giving 77 metal halide pendant fixtures the boot in favor of efficient high-bay fluorescent lights, according to the city’s announcement. That project will save an estimated $21,500 a year and 270,417 kilowatt-hours, which is enough to power 22 average-size homes year-round. The project is expected to cost $105,961, money that the city expects to see a return on in about four years.

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