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Harahan, LA 70123

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Energy-efficient lighting



Cameron Parish School System

Cameron, LA



Magnetic ballasts, inefficient fluorescent lamps, incandescent exit signs



3,400 new ballasts

9,000 fluorescent lamps

LED exit signs

3,000 specular reflectors


Cameron Parish School System is living up to its motto, “Caring makes the difference,” by saving taxpayers’ money and improving its learning environment for students and teachers. And it isn’t spending a dime in the process.


“We’re excited about saving a projected $39,400 in tax dollars annually by upgrading the lighting systems in seven schools and one administrative building,” reports Uland Guidry, the school system’s supervisor of student services and energy conservation.


“We’re also pleased that the lighting upgrade is substantially increasing the light levels in class rooms from their previous levels. This meets or exceeds Louisiana’s illumination requirements for schools, which helps students, teachers and staff,” he said. The state requires 50 foot-candles of visually comfortable light on desktops.


The saved dollars and higher light levels are the result of replacing old, inefficient lamps and ballasts with energy efficient ones. More than 9,000 fluorescent lamps, nearly 3,400 electronic ballasts, and more than 3,000 reflectors, exit signs and other lamps are being installed in 4,206 fixtures in classrooms, cafeterias, gymnasiums, auditoriums, corridors and administrative offices.


Rickey Ryckman, president of Southern Energy Technologies, the New Orleans, La.-based energy services company managing the upgrade, said, “The new lighting system will use 40-45 percent less energy than the old one.” That savings totals more than788,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, or $39,400 in energy costs, considering the school’s average kilowatt-hour rate of 0.05 cents. The school will use these savings to pay for the new system, so it will not have to increase its budget.


Additional energy will be saved because the new lighting system will generate less heat than the previous one, so air conditioning costs will be lower. Maintenance costs also will drop because the new system is designed to last longer than the one it is replacing and because the number of lamp types has been reduced, which saves inventory expense.


Another significant benefit of the new lighting system is environmental protection. Saving energy reduces demand for electricity, which helps cut pollution that would otherwise be created by power plants. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency calculations show that the energy saved by Cameron Parish School System’s new lighting system will avoid the emission of more than 670 tons of carbon dioxide, 2 tons of nitrogen oxide and nearly 2 tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.


The project started with energy audits of each building that determined the condition of the lighting system and its pattern of energy use. Light levels in many areas in the buildings fell below state requirements, while some were over lighted, using excess energy.


The company designed a lighting system tailored to the needs of each building that would achieve three objectives. First, meet or exceed the state’s lighting requirements while improving overall lighting quality. Next, optimize energy efficiency. Third, reduce lighting system maintenance costs. “All three were achieved in each building,” Ryckman said.


The lighting systems contained a mix of fluorescent, high intensity discharge and incandescent fixtures, depending on the use of the space. Classrooms, for example, had primarily fluorescent fixtures, while auditoriums used mainly high intensity discharge fixtures. They ranged in age from 10 to 40 years and while most were in good condition a number required replacing or needed new reflectors and/or lenses to improve the distribution of light.


Long, eight-foot fluorescent lamps were replaced with pairs of four-foot lamps that operate longer and produce more consistent light output over their service lives. Incandescent fixtures and lamps were replaced with energy-efficient and longer lasting high intensity discharge or compact fluorescent lamps. A typical incandescent lamp, for example, will operate for up to 1,000 hours, while a compact fluorescent will operate for 10,000 hours, or 10 times longer, and use far less electricity.


Energy efficient electronic ballasts that allow lamps on a circuit to continue operating after one of the lamps fails replaced ballasts that would shut down the other lamps. Exit signs with light emitting diodes (LEDs) that can last for up to 25 years and use only two watts per sign replaced signs lighted with incandescent lamps totaling 40 watts.


Standardizing fluorescent lamp size and using electronic ballasts, long-life LEDs, and compact fluorescent lamps will reduce maintenance costs, primarily in labor, for changing lamps.


Old lamps are being recycled and ballasts that contained hazardous PCBs are being disposed of safely.


Southern Energy Technologies, Inc. is a member of a national energy-efficiency program led by Advance Transformer Co.