Spark from 2012 Project Leads to Lighting Upgrades in Cedarburg Schools

Spark from 2012 Project Leads to Lighting Upgrades in Cedarburg Schools

Cedarburg, Wis.
WPPI Energy and Cedarburg Water & Light

Cedarburg, Wis. – A forward-thinking lighting experiment involving a school district and its utility started a seven-year journey that ended with major renovations at Cedarburg Schools.

FOCUS ON ENERGY® and Cedarburg Light and Water Utility presented a check to the Cedarburg School District at last night’s school board meeting for $160,880.75, a financial incentive for the significant investments the district made in energy efficiency across all its buildings.

It’s an investment with roots in a 2012 collaboration between the utility and John Koster, Director of Facilities for Cedarburg Schools. Their project called for retrofitting a number of fluorescent lighting fixtures in the high school with approximately 360 LED lamps. The utility provided the lamps and the school district provided the labor to install them and the test environment.

“This demonstration project saved energy and provided us all with valuable insight to the practicality of this ‘new’ technology, from installation to the quality of the illumination itself,” said Dale Lythjohan, General Manager of Cedarburg Light and Water. “Remember that, in 2012, LEDs were relatively new and, in most cases cost prohibitive, so we had very few applications available to learn from. With this demonstration project, we gained first-hand knowledge and experience that we could share with other customers of the utility.”

Fast forward to 2016 and the school district was ready for a bigger lighting project. Koster met with representatives from Focus on Energy, the utility and contractor Total Mechanical, Inc. Together, they developed a plan to implement LED lighting and controls, knowing the improved occupant comfort and energy savings would save money and make buildings more attractive places in which to work and learn.

District buildings are now fully lit with LEDs while the high school has a complete network lighting control system, which gives instructors control of lights in the classroom, gymnasium and all other rooms in the school. Most of the LEDs are dimmed permanently, allowing for more energy savings beyond the 50% typically seen when upgrading to LEDs.

Cedarburg Light & Water, one of the 107 Wisconsin utilities that partner in Focus on Energy, contributed a bonus $10,000 incentive on top of Focus on Energy’s financial incentive for the 2017-18 lighting projects, which will see annual energy savings of 1,341,180 kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to charge 121,000 million cell phones. That amount of energy savings also means the school district will see an estimated $145,000 annual reduction on its energy bills.

In addition to the lighting initiative, the school district has upgraded HVAC equipment at its three elementary schools and upgraded boilers district-wide.

Focus on Energy provides energy expertise and financial incentives to residential, business and other customers of its utility partners. A recent third-party evaluation revealed Wisconsin runs the most-cost-effective energy efficiency programs in the nation, in terms of energy savings per dollar spent. The same evaluation found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates $5 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs and reduced pollution.

About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit

A group of professionally-dressed people stand in a room with bookshelves, holding a large check from Cedarburg Light & Water Utility and Focus on Energy.

Photo: Representatives from WPPI Energy, Focus on Energy, Cedarburg School Board, and Cedarburg Light & Water, as well as the School District Director of Facilities and Cedarburg Schools Superintendent

Cedarburg, Wis.

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