New lights save money, improve security

Two photos showing old and new exterior lights

The familiar yellow glow on the horizon south of Boise is on its way to becoming a thing of the past as the Idaho Department of Correction installs new perimeter lights at its facilities in the South Boise Correctional Complex.

The department is in the midst of a statewide effort to replace the exterior lighting systems at all of its correctional facilities. The move is expected to save taxpayers money by reducing energy consumption by an estimated 68 percent and improving the image captured by security cameras.

“Our old lighting systems emit a warm, yellow light that gives shadows more reach and depth, and muddles color definition,” says IDOC construction manager Michael McCabe. “With the new lighting, the uniforms look blue and clarity is enhanced.”

The new lighting systems are manufactured by a Meridian-based company, Global Energy & Lighting. IDOC is using Global Energy’s 375W and 210W Ceramatek retrofit kits for exterior lighting, and the department is considering using other Global Energy products to improve interior lighting on a select basis around the state. A Global Energy lighting system has already been installed at the Idaho State Correctional Institution’s gym.

“The old halide lights were huge energy draws and were showing wear,” McCabe say. “The 315W Ceramatek kits provide us with significant energy savings of about 70 percent, and staff and inmates have given many compliments on the quality of the new lighting.”

The savings are spectacular. It cost $20,000 to retrofit the lights at the ISCI gym but IDOC got a $17,000 conversation program rebate offered through Idaho Power. That means the total cost of the project was just $3,000 and it will save about $10,000 a year in energy savings.

IDOC also enjoys savings when it comes to maintenance costs. The new fixtures are expected to last 10 years, much longer than the halide and high-pressure sodium lights.

IDOC’s retrofitting project will proceed as funding is available. The department has already finished work on the exterior lighting the Southern Idaho Correctional Institution Community Work Center south of Boise and at the Idaho Correctional Institution–Orofino, as well as at ISCI’s gym. Work is currently underway at Idaho Maximum Security Institution, south of Boise.

As the project moves forward, IDOC expects to enjoy significant savings by taking advantage of more conservation programs offered by Idaho Power, Avista and other energy companies that serve Idaho. The total cost of retrofitting all of the exterior lighting at correctional facilities statewide is expected to be about $463,000. But the department expects rebates will pick up about 45 percent of the tab for a total cost to the department of about $250,000.

When the project is complete, IDOC expects the new lighting systems will save 1.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity every year and cut the department’s annual electric bill by about $101,000. In terms of carbon emissions, the savings will be equivalent to removing 235 passenger vehicles from U.S. roads.

Story published: 06/09/2014
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