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New lighting expected to cut WDC schools' power consumption

Photo provided by Dana Pavek WDC High School Head Custodian Curt Rentz, left, holds one of the new 8-lamp high-bay T8 fluorescent fixtures being installed this summer. High School Custodian Mel Pulju stands next to the old fixtures. The new lights will reap 50 to 80 percent in energy savings, provide better light and do away with the old fixtures' buzzing noise and warm-up time.

The Wadena-Deer Creek School District is in the midst of replacing inefficient lighting in the school district. Energy-efficient fluorescent lighting is replacing out-dated, inefficient lighting in the high school commons, high school gymnasiums, as well as the elementary and Memorial Auditorium gymnasiums this summer.

The lighting update is projected to not only dramatically improve the gyms' lighting, but is expected to cut the lighting's power consumption considerably.

Curt Rentz, head custodian at WDC High School, said the new lights are a noticeable improvement over their predecessors.

"They're double the illumination," he said. "We'll also see a definite drop in power usage. The lights will pay for themselves in 6 months to 1 ½ years."

Rentz said the savings will drop to 13 cents per hour. Furthermore, a rebate of $70 per light replaced from the city of Wadena's electric company helped offset the cost of the lights.

"In the high school gym, commons, elementary and auditorium gyms, the replacement of new fixtures and old fixtures is one for one. In the original high school gym, it's 17 new fixtures replacing 52 old fixtures," Rentz said.

Rentz, the custodial staff and two local electricians are changing out the fixtures. A recycling company will pick up old fixtures for recycling.

The lighting upgrade was approved by the school board as a way to save energy and money, as well as benefit the local environment. The lighting creates a more "green" environment by reducing lighting consumption by 50 to 80 percent. The power reduction decreases the release of carbon dioxide, carbon, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the air as well.

Brian Silbernick, WDC activities director, says the school community and the public will be pleasantly surprised at the improved lighting.

"I think people will like the change," Silbernick said. "The lights definitely create a brighter atmosphere, which will be nice for athletic and community events."