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Maine Community Seeing Things in a New Light

June 23, 2011 - 6:11pm

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Fort Fairfield's new energy effificent streetlights | Courtesy of: Paul Cyr©2011 NorthernMainePhotos.com

Fort Fairfield's new energy effificent streetlights | Courtesy of: Paul Cyr©2011 NorthernMainePhotos.com

As one of the northernmost communities in the “Lower 48,” Fort Fairfield, Maine (population 3,500) averages less sunlight every year than towns in the southern part of the state.

In the summer months, this isn’t a big problem since it stays lighter much later in the evening. In the winter, however, the hours of actual daylight are dramatically shorter, which can lead to higher utility bills for keeping streetlights on for more hours per day.

All this darkness and the need to save energy is one of the reasons Fort Fairfield was able to leverage $58,290 in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding with a $45,675 lighting incentive from Efficiency Maine to replace 174 streetlights with LED lighting technology.

Before and after photos of Fort Fairfield's streetlights. |  Courtesy of Paul Cyr©2011 NorthernMainePhotos.com

Efficiency Maine is an independent statewide agency created to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

Officials with Efficiency Maine estimated the move will save the town approximately $19,000 each year for at least the next 12 years. Annual energy costs for Fort Fairfield’s street lighting system will be reduced from $23,600 per year, down to $4,600.

An added bonus to the cost savings is the improvement in the quality of the light cast on the streets. The ‘before and after’ photos show a dramatic improvement in both the illuminated streets and sidewalks and in the colors of illuminated buildings, storefronts and signage.

Town Manager Dan Foster says the local response has been very positive, especially as the cost savings have been realized by residents.

In March, Efficiency Maine presented Fort Fairfield with its Recognition Award for its commitment to reducing energy consumption and energy costs.

Fort Fairfield was singled out for the award because of the energy projects it has undertaken in partnership with Efficiency Maine, and also because it has encouraged other organizations and businesses to do the same.

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