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Green Christmas Lighting
It's a green Christmas in Lancaster this year ¡ª at least when it comes to the village¡¯s new LED holiday lighting.

This year, the village purchased 15,000 new energy-efficient Christmas lights to festoon trees, outline the buildings and wind around holiday garlands hanging throughout its central business district as part of its expanded Christmasville festivities.

For their investment, village trustees expect to save 8,335 kilowatt- hours of electricity and $1,300 for every year the new lights are used ¡ª at least 11 seasons of life, or 10 times longer than traditional holiday bulbs.

Lancaster may be lighting the way toward a more environmentally friendly holiday season, but other communities are also joining the effort.

Deputy Lancaster Mayor William C. Schroeder says the LED (light-emitting diode) lights produce almost no heat and don¡¯t overload outdoor circuits. They also are constructed with solid-state chips that convert electricity into light without using a filament or glass bulb, which makes them virtually indestructible and more shock-resistant than other light strings.

What clinched the decision for Schroeder was a visit to a trade show at John Deere in Cheektowaga, which is a distributor for Winterland Inc. The village also got some encouragement and a public pat on the back from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which sent a representative to opening night of Lancaster¡¯s Christmasville celebration last month.

¡°These long-lasting lights are a smart way for all New Yorkers to celebrate the holidays efficiently and help the state reach its goal of reducing electricity consumption 15 percent by 2015,¡± said Bob Callender, the authority¡¯s vice president for programs.

LED decorative light strings for home use 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent strands, he said.

Some other local communities are slowly beginning to follow suit with their holiday decorations, too.

In the Town of Tonawanda, the Environment Commission has been working to develop and promote energy- and money-saving practices for the Ken-Ton area. Already, annual holiday decorations there have gone green.

The Christmas tree in front of the municipal building is strung with LED lights, as are decorations on the front of Police Headquarters.

And for the last few years, the annual holiday lighting contest for residents has had an energy-efficient theme.

¡°It¡¯s been slow to catch on, but the people . . . realize what we¡¯re trying to do; they understand and appreciate that,¡± said Peter C. Rizzo, a commission member.

In the Village of Williamsville, an Environmental Committee sagely promoted the switch to LED lights decorating the municipal tree outside the Village Hall this year to save money and energy, but Village Administrator Lynda L. Juul laments that wreath decorations purchased two years ago came prewired with non-LED lights.

¡°We¡¯ll be keeping the same theme in the future for decorations but replacing with more LED lights as time goes by,¡± she said.

The Village of Orchard Park replaced the star atop its water tower last year with an LEDlighted ornament using less energy, Mayor John B. Wilson said. The old star had just been refurbished when it was struck by lightning. ¡°Half of it was out ¡ª it stood up there looking pretty forlorn for the whole holiday season,¡± he said.

While the LED ornament will use less electricity, Wilson said he wasn¡¯t familiar with the amount of savings. The display is funded by donations and recreation event proceeds.

The village¡¯s streetlight displays would be expensive to replace before their useful life is up, Wilson said. There are about 45 lighted wreaths spread among the village¡¯s 96 light poles, he said.

¡°The replacement cost is huge,¡± he said.
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