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Wisconsin LED Plant Benefits from Recovery Act

April 1, 2010 - 6:58pm

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Workers at a Racine, Wis., manufacturing company are busy filling orders for American cities seeking to brighten their communities with energy efficient lights.

BetaLED, a division of Ruud Lighting, Inc., is seeing a healthy boost in business as cities tap into their Recovery Act funds to purchase light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures for its roadways, parking lots, and buildings.  Thousands of lights in cities such as San Jose, Calif., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Anchorage, Alaska, have already been replaced with BetaLED energy-efficient fixtures.

“It’s a win for everyone: the environment, the cities, buildings, for us,” says Gianna O’Keefe, marketing manager for Ruud Lighting.

The cities’ decision to switch to LED lighting isn’t surprising to Alan Ruud, CEO and chairman of the company.  They emit more light, have a longer life rating than incandescent or high-pressure sodium lights, and provide anywhere from 50 to 70 percent in energy savings, he says. 

“I don’t know why anyone would use anything but LED,” Alan says. “It can perform much better with half the energy.” 

BetaLED is providing jobs for Racine’s community. Their facility, which produced hundreds of thousands of LED products last year, employs about 600 people, and for every job in the plant, eight to 10 more are created outside the company, Alan says. Staff at the facility design, engineer, and assemble the lights; the remaining work is subcontracted out to domestic partners.

BetaLED has been supplying energy-efficient lighting to clients around the world since 2001.  The company got into the business when LEDs were capable of just 8 lumens per watt (LPW).  That number jumped up to 40 LPW in 2006. Today, BetaLED has products that have luminous efficacy of 100+ LPW.

Their investment in the technology over the last 10 years has paid off. Since its inception, the company has seen a steady increase in sales, and it has hired more workers since last year.

They’re also preparing for the future.  Ruud is building a new manufacturing plant in Italy, and the company now invests all of their research and development in LED technology.

Alan and Gianna expect more business to come their way as funds are officially allotted to lighting projects through the United States.  “We’re all dressed and ready to go,” Alan says. 

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