Michigan Saves’ Public Sector Energy Financing Program—A Win-win for Government

Utility worker in a bucket truck adjusting a street light with LED lights

It is no secret that Michigan’s infrastructure is overdue for investment. And while the news is full of splashy images of cavernous potholes and rusty bridges, local governments can notch some easier wins in the battle to update aging systems.

And Michigan Saves can help.

When you think about infrastructure, you may not think about what it costs to keep the lights on (literally). Traffic signals and streetlights keep us safe on the road and in our neighborhoods every day, and almost every avenue of government service uses energy. From lighting the ninth inning of a hometown softball game to heating your favorite nook in the library—maintaining quality of life in a community starts with maintaining quality energy infrastructure.

But this energy infrastructure is just as susceptible to the effects of aging and technological advances as our sidewalks and streets are. For this reason, it is critical that public-sector organizations consider energy infrastructure in their long-term planning, before it starts eating up the bottom line and crowding out investment on other services.

This issue of costly energy infrastructure was all too familiar to the city of Fraser, a small suburb outside of Detroit. The city’s streetlights were outdated, expensive to operate and not very bright. But like many small towns, Fraser could not afford the needed upgrades.

When traditional municipal funding avenues failed Fraser, Michigan Saves stepped in with low-cost capital and a track record of expertise in energy upgrades. Nick Schaefer, Fraser’s public works supervisor, said that Michigan Saves was critical to the success of the project.

“We could not have done this project without Michigan Saves. It was costing us money every day we waited,” Schaefer explained. “With Michigan Saves, we were saving taxpayer money from day one.”

By working with Michigan Saves, Fraser installed 825 LED light fixtures throughout the city with zero money down and a low interest rate. The City financed $236,857 of their $248,210 project with special 1.99% APR financing, enabled by a partnership with DTE Energy. Fraser is now projected to save about $67,000 per year on energy costs.

Through Michigan Saves financing, Fraser was not only able to save taxpayer money, but it was able to build civic pride and strengthen the community.

“This project saves taxpayer dollars, but it also improves the community in a way that residents can truly see,” Schaefer said.

Michigan Saves’ Public Sector Energy Financing Program can help any entity in the public sector make energy improvements so they can continue to do what they do best—serve their communities. Eligible projects for public-sector financing include lighting, heating and cooling, building sealing and renewable energy generation.

Learn more at michigansaves.org/commercial-buildings/.