Town of 63 sees cost savings and safer streets with LED lighting

Project will pay back in two years and residents feel safer walking at night

With only 63 residents, Whalan is a very small city, but it’s also very unique to Southeastern Minnesota.

“Whalan is defined not only by the individuals who call it home but also by the visitors,” shared City Clerk and Treasurer Lolly Melander. “They enjoy a stroll through our city, use the Root River Bike Trail system, come to city events, or stay for the weekend at one of our local bed and breakfasts or resorts.”
Not surprisingly, Whalan held a community meeting to decide whether or not to upgrade their 29 street lights to LEDs, and the residents decided to move forward.

We only have 29 street lights in Whalan, but they were outdated and costing the city a lot to run and keep up every year. We recently completed the project and in the first six months have already saved about $2,500 on electricity. On top of the cost benefits, resident comments have been very positive. They are delighted about the lights and how they shine at night. It makes them feel safer to be out walking.

Lolly Melander, City Clerk and Treasurer

Spotlight on savings and benefits

  1. The lights should pay for themselves in just under 2 years. The awarded Southeast CERT Seed Grant of $1,000 paid for a portion of the $7,900 cost, with the city paying for the rest.
  2. Mayor Marlys Tuftin and City Clerk and Treasurer Lolly Melander explained the additional savings on top of the electricity and the security benefits of the upgrade. As a very small municipal utility, Whalan has to contract with MiEnergy for a boom truck to do street light replacement. They sometimes wait for multiple lights to burn out to justify the over $800 expense to bring the truck into town. Since many streets have only one light, an outage creates safety issues.
  3. These new LED lights are expected to last about 20 years, which provides more consistent lighting as well as less spending on replacement costs.

Technology: Lighting Upgrades
CERTs Seed Grant: $1,000
Total Project Cost: $7,866.63
Other Funds: City funds
Project Team: Lolly Melander (Clerk/Treasurer), Marlys Tuftin (Mayor), Owen Lewis (Council Member), MiEnergy Cooperative (utility partner and installed lights)
People Involved and Reached: 63
Annual Energy Savings: 42,240 kWh

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