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A good idea followed by a bad one

Richard Kaplan, the mayor of Lauderhill, Florida, had what he thought was a good idea to reduce his city’s lighting bill.  A story in the Sun Sentinel explains the idea:

why not use federal stimulus dollars to pay for swapping out bulbs in the roadside fixtures for more energy-efficient units?

By using state-of-the-art LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, Kaplan estimated his municipality could save 40 to 60 percent on its street-lighting bill, which is expected to reach $420,000 next year.

Sounds good, right?

But there was one problem. Even if the city reduced its electric consumption, Florida Power & Light Co. wouldn’t lower the bill. The city would still have to pay a statewide per-pole rate set by the utility and approved by regulators.

There is no break granted for LED lights and FPL has no immediate plan to institute one.

So Mayor Kaplan did the logical thing:

At this point, the mayor has abandoned plans to use any of the city’s $595,200 in federal energy stimulus funds for new streetlights.

“It won’t serve any real purpose until FPL changes its rules,” said Kaplan.

Unfortunately, Mayor Kaplan’s next idea for spending the city’s stimulus money wasn’t so good:

Kaplan said the city will use the money for other green projects, including handing out 10,000 of another type of energy-saving bulbs — compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs — to residents.

Each of those 10,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs contains mercury, a dangerous pollutant.  Let’s hope Mayor Kaplan saved some of Lauderhill’s stimulus money to pay for mercury clean-up at the city’s landfill.

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