LIGHTS!... CAMERA!... OK, really just LIGHTS!

September 2023

Light bulb with CERTs logoHere at CERTs, we often compare energy efficiency measures to eating your vegetables. Sure, it isn’t really exciting, but man, are they good for you. 

And we know that lighting retrofits might be like the broccoli of energy efficiency, but we love ‘em. They make the place look better, plus they save lots of energy and dollars. What’s not to like?

CERTs Seed Grants have supported A LOT of lighting retrofits over the years, we recently wrote about ones at White Earth and Grand Portage, but hey, here are a few more!

Northeast MN — Kanabec County Fairgrounds

32,000 people use the Kanabec County Fairgrounds each year. Activities include 4-H gatherings, county-wide celebrations like Take Back the Night and Family Night Out, youth athletics through MAYRA, plus ice skating and hockey. That is a well-used space! Not only do the new outdoor lights help the fairgrounds shine during events, they also serve as security lighting throughout the year. Looking ahead, there are plans for future lighting improvements in the grandstand area.

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“It went very well and CERTs flexibility helped us through a logistics issue when we were unable to get the hardware for this project in a timely manner. I hope to get the PACE loan paid off early and move on to a solar garden development in the years to come.”

Kathi Ellis, Kanabec County Agricultural Society

West Central MN — Paynesville Area Secondary School, Performing Arts Center

Hey, do you want to hear a nifty idea? Upgrade 300 lights in a theater, and then pay it forward by giving 300 audience members free gift bags with LED bulbs and the names of local retailers where people can buy more bulbs! 

That is exactly what the Paynesville Area Community Theater did with their recent performances of the musical “Little House on the Prairie.” They also created a large foam board display about the project in the lobby. Additionally, the theater played a prerecorded video explaining the lighting retrofit project before each performance. The video showcased a slideshow with useful lighting tips, as well as showed pictures before, during, and after the lighting upgrades. Pretty slick, huh? 

“Thank you so much for providing this grant. The resulting change in the performing arts center was very appreciated, and it was accomplished prior to the summer Community Theater production, so that was a plus!”

Jean Louis, Paynesville Public Schools

Southeast MN — Channel One Food Bank

Channel One Food Bank, located in Rochester, Minnesota, has a service area that includes Faribault, Waseca, Rice, Goodhue, Wabasha, Steele, Dodge, Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, Fillmore, Winona, and Houston Counties within Minnesota, plus La Crosse County, Wisconsin. 

They replaced old tube lighting with LED lighting, specifically 266 10.5 Watt tubes, 466 18.5 Watt tubes, and 36 25 Watt tubes. They also replaced all of the 4' tubes in their warehouse. Since the project was completed they have seen a 9-14% reduction in overall electricity usage.

“Since so much of our work is energy intensive owing to the need for refrigeration, this 9-14% decrease in consumption points to a dramatic increase in lighting efficiency,” noted Dan Nemes with Channel One.

Nemes highlighted the need in their service territory and the meaningful impact of the lighting retrofit savings.

“40,150 people, including 11,570 children, are food insecure. The savings from this project equate 520 meals per month for people in southeast Minnesota.”

Dan Nemes, Channel One


Clean Energy Focus: Energy efficiency with LED lighting

Northeast, Southeast, and West Central CERT Seed Grants: $13,290

Other Funds Leveraged: electric utility rebates, PACE loan, RETAP in-kind time for an assessment, ISG funds, contractor/supplier discount

Energy Saved Each Year: 107,582 kWh

Money Saved Each Year: $12,500

People Involved and Reached: 73,090

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