The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Wood
The Times 

Lighting Upgrade Will Save Waitsburg Schools Thousands

Pacific Power incentive may cover majority of cost to replace Preston Hall lighting


WAITSBURG – At their March meeting the Waitsburg School Board approved a lighting upgrade purchase in Preston Hall that will save the district thousands of dollars each year. An energy incentive kick-back from Pacific Power will allow the district to recoup the investment in its first year, alone.

In January, District Facilities, Transportation, and Maintenance Supervisor Colter Mohney, approached the board about checking into options for replacing the deteriorating lighting in Preston Hall.

Mohney said the lights are expensive to fix and that the fixes don’t last. He said that he had learned that The Whitman in Walla Walla did a large lighting upgrade and received an efficiency kickback from Pacific Power & Light to cover the materials.

Mohney said the old-style fixtures include ballasts and bulbs which plug into a plastic piece that deteriorates over time. He said the plastic piece can no longer be purchased. He also said some of the ballasts in the high school are no longer manufactured and there is no replacement, forcing the crew to come up alternative fixes.

Mohney demonstrated a proposed fix that uses LED lights, costs $105 for a “full fix” of ballasts and three bulbs, and can be completed quickly. He said the smaller, one-bulb lights cost $65 to upgrade. He said the upgraded fixtures are brighter, use three times less energy, and last 20-30 times longer than the current bulbs and ballasts.

Mohney offered to check with Pacific Power to see what kind of rebate, based on energy savings, would be available if the district upgraded the entire building, rather than upgrading on an as-needed basis as they had been doing. He said the cost to purchase all the materials would be roughly $8,000 for 160 fixtures.

Mohney returned to the March 8 board meeting with two quotes. A full upgrade of fixtures, both inside and outside Preston Hall, would run $9,122 for materials. The PP&L incentive would be $5958, leaving $3164 to the district. An upgrade without replacing the gym and exit lights would be $6,835 for materials, with an incentive of $4315, leaving a balance of $2520 for the district to cover.

Mohney said that, looking at rough numbers, the full upgrade would save the district roughly $3,000 annually in energy savings.

The board unanimously approved the full-building upgrade and Mohney said the project should be able to be completed during summer vacation.


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