LED projects light up city of Paris

BY KATE COIL

The city of Paris now has one more thing in common with its French namesake: both can be thought of as the City of Lights.
Paris City Manager Kim Foster said lighting up the city’s own Eiffel Tower was suggested as a way to bring more tourists to the area, especially after the sun has begun to set.
“Our economic development director took it on as a project, raised the funds, and we all thought it would be a great addition to the tower,” she said. “It’s amazing how many people have come out to see it in the first year alone. I have gone by the park, even at 10:30 at night, and there is always someone there looking at it or taking pictures with it. At nighttime, the Eiffel Tower can be just as big a draw for the community as during the day. It has been super successful.”

The lights are controlled remotely and have the ability to change color and move to music if desired. In addition to saving money over compact fluorescent bulbs, the LED lights installed at the tower can produce an unlimited number of colors and color options that can be changed to celebrate any holidays, special occasions, or specific needs. The project was paid for by the city of Paris, Paris Board of Public Utilities, Henry County Tourism Authority, Paris-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, and multiple individual and corporate donors.

“If it’s not a special event, the Tower changes colors on its own,” Foster said. “We can light it up for different holidays. Groups will ask us to light it up different colors for their events. The state has even asked us to light it up different colors in recognition of events, such as Mental Health Awareness. We try to respond to those as best we can, and it stays on that color for three days.”

Mayor Carlton Gerrell said the project was one way of highlighting one of the city’s most important landmarks.
“The Eiffel Tower brings in countless number of visitors to our community each year, lighting it for nighttime viewing helps increase the opportunities for people to visit our community,” Gerrell said. “Besides Kentucky Lake, it is our No. 1 tourist attraction.”

Adding LED lights to the city’s Eiffel Tower was just the first major lighting project Paris undertook. In 2017, the city began a switchover to LED lights in all of its public streetlights.
The Paris LED Streetlight Project has worked to replace 2,527 “cobra head” streetlights, changing over from the high-pressure sodium style bulbs to more energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LED) bulbs.

“We are almost to the end of our energy efficiency project,” Foster said. “Among other things, we have changed over all of our street lighting in the city to LED lighting. We partnered with Trane for a performance-based contract where the savings we reap in energy costs will cover the bond issue. We were able to apply for a qualified energy conservation (QEC) bond. It basically subsidizes the bond costs. In essence, we lowered our interest rates on our bonds to less 1 percent.”
The new LED bulbs have a longer lifespan; produce a better, clearer color; and operate at a cooler temperature than the original bulbs. Additionally, the project reduced the city’s energy consumption resulting in energy savings, reduced maintenance costs on street lights, and made the city more visible at night.
“It is amazing the difference in energy savings,” Foster said. “I didn’t even realize how much difference there would be. We are paying less than a dollar a month per light on LED, which was a huge savings. We have 2,600 lights citywide, which is a big difference. It is also pretty. The lights are crisp and clean. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community.”

The city’s new streetlights and the Eiffel Tower will be on display at the upcoming 2018 World’s Biggest Fish Fry from April 21 through April 28.