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Morris high school to get upgraded lighting on campus

Published: Monday, March 17, 2014 9:36 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – Morris Community High School will be upgrading its exterior lighting this summer to LED lights, which not only burn brighter and whiter but also save on energy consumption.

This project is part of the district’s list of capital improvements to the building.

“It will really brighten everything up for security and safety reasons,” said Steve Lutz, facility manager at MCHS. “It will include every light outside the building and in both the student and teacher parking lots.”

Lutz said now is the fiscally responsible time to do it by using the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Public Sector Electric Efficiency State Rebate Program.

“The current lights are high pressure sodium lights and are very yellow,” Lutz said. “We’ve been gradually replacing them for the past 15 to 20 years.”

The parking lot currently is half high pressure sodium lights and half mercury lights.

“Changing to the new lighting will improve energy efficiency,” Superintendent Pat Halloran said. “The lighting we currently have is dated.”

The project will start in June and will be completed before students return to school in the fall.

The work will be completed by Graybar PowerSmart in Glendale Heights, which estimated the total cost for material and labor for the project to be $39,844. The DCEO rebates that are available on the project total $14,840, which will bring the cost down to $25,004.

But Lutz said the savings outweighs the cost. With annual operating savings of $13,183 in both energy and maintenance the project will pay for itself in a little more than two years.

The proposal estimates the amount saved over a 10-year period to be $131,831.

Halloran said the money will come out of the operation and maintenance fund, which is where the majority of their Tax Increment Fund District funds are allocated. 

A TIF District freezes the assessed value of properties in the district. Any tax money generated from increases in value of those properties then goes into a special fund to be used to improve properties in the district. With the current TIF district, the city of Morris receives 50 percent of TIF funds and Morris school districts receive 40 percent. The remaining 10 percent is considered surplus money and divided among all taxing bodies in the district.

The school district also will be accepting bids shortly for the auditorium stage lighting to be converted to LED.

The board approved accepting bids for the auditorium lighting at last week’s meeting.

“The equipment we currently have in the auditorium is antiquated,” Lutz said. “They require constant service with bulbs going out.”

Lutz said this isn’t the first time the district has used DCEO rebates to complete projects in the school. In 2011, it used the rebates to update the gym lighting in the varsity gym, the field house and the wrestling gym.

The gym project cost the district $47,464.12 and had a $15,500.82 rebate with an estimated annual energy savings for the project of $5,836 annually.

The district also used the DCEO rebate program to add light sensors to the classrooms and offices in the building, which shut the lights off when no one is in the room, turning them on again when the light sensors sense movement.

The sensor project, which was installed in 2012, had a total project cost of $32,423, and at the time the district anticipated a rebate of $15,520.80, but received $17,693.71, cutting the out of pocket cost to the district more than anticipated.

The estimated annual energy savings for the occupancy sensors is $4,961.

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