Ellettsville Energy Reforms Could Save Thousands

ELLETTSVILLE — The Ellettsville Town Council met Monday to discuss updates regarding the Heritage Trail development, flood abatement, the striping of Reeves Road, and most predominantly, an energy audit report for town-owned buildings that may just help win $5 million.

Michael Farmer, supervisor of Ellettsville Utilities, assisted Don Kyle of Kirby Risk Electrical Supply and Mark Sommers from LIGHTsource of Indianapolis in presenting energy-saving opportunities aimed at winning the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.

The competition seeks to bring together 50 small-to-medium-sized communities who take steps in reducing energy usage and increasing efficiency, over the course of two years. Kyle stressed that, even if Ellettsville weren’t able to win the energy prize, the end result of efficiency is a prize of its own at a time where half of the energy in the United States is wasted. Kyle and Sommers laid out 10 years worth of energy and financial estimates, accounting for a variety of factors centering on rebates, maintenance and labor.

The presentation compared current operation costs and energy usage with the projected savings that would result from a conversion to LED lighting in both indoor and outdoor fixtures at the Ellettsville maintenance shop, sewer plant, police department and fire house. If the council decides to pass the proposal, LED fixtures that last more than 30,000 hours longer will replace inefficient fluorescent bulbs.

Five-year fixture replacement warranties, a rebate from Duke Energy and existing funds within departments are all examples of support for alternatives. If the effort is approved and the town receives a Duke Energy rebate, Ellettsville could see a positive return on the initial investment of $142,158 within five years.

In regard to the aesthetic quality of switching light sources from fluorescent to LED, Kyle cited the use of tier one products made in the United States as an assurance of quality. An upgrade recently installed in the gymnasium of the Area 10 Agency on Aging in Ellettsville has been successful in accommodating user needs.

“The lower wattage unit is able to provide an incredible amount of light,” said Kyle. “They’ve even asked if we could dim the lights.”

Ellettsville Town Council members elected to wait on plan approval until department heads were briefed on the issue. While the competition is only in the third month of its two-year span, the alterations proposed will last up to 25 years.