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For 2014, RFMU plans to let it shine

City Conservation and Efficiency Coordinator Mike Noreen (left) and Utility Director Kevin Westhuis stand near a tree lit with 16 strands of large LED holiday lights. They said that the tree uses less energy than a tree using a single strand of small incandescent holiday lights.

One street light at a time, the streets of River Falls will start to get a bit brighter.

Local Utility Director Kevin Westhuis and Conservation and Efficiency Coordinator Mike Noreen say the city will also save money because of it.

River Falls Municipal Utility (RFMU) will start replacing 708 of the city’s high-pressure sodium street lights with LED (light-emitting diode) street lights starting this year.

Westhuis and Noreen said the new LED street lights will be brighter than the old lights, and they’ll use about half of the electricity the old lights use.

“(The) energy and maintenance, the cost saving make it a responsible thing to do for our community,” Westhuis said.

Noreen said the city and RFMU will save about 56,200 kilowatt hours on electricity annually.

He said that’s about the same energy consumption as five homes use in a year. And that is just based on the 200 lights RFMU plans to replace this year.

“This isn’t a green initiative per se, but it does save electricity, it does save energy significantly,” Westhuis said.

The plan is to gradually replace the lights as they require upkeep.

Westhuis said RFMU has to replace or fix street lights about 200 times a year.

Instead of just fixing the old lights this year, RFMU will replace them with the new LED lights.

Westhuis said RFMU workers will replace the old high-pressure sodium lights gradually over the next four years.

For the complete story, please see the Jan. 9 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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