Light bulb wars and the MOA parking ramp

Twenty three train cars of coal a year.

That’s the estimate of how much coal won’t be burned when the Mall of America parking ramps are completely fitted out with brand spanking new LED (light emitting diode) lights.

The $3 million project to switch to the new energy-saving lamps begins in July. Thank you, federal taxpayers, for contributing half a million dollars to the effort.

The MOA folks estimate that money saved from a lower electric bill will pay for the changeover in four years.

The MOA press release says the energy savings will be 800 kilowatts a year.

The people at Fresh Energy say that saves about 2800 tons of coal. And the railroad folks say a coal car hauls about 120 tons, or 23 cars of coal (thank you, newsroom math maven Tom Weber).

The light bulb war is being waged by some members of Congress who want to guarantee Americans will still be able to buy the incandescent units after 2012 when new federal energy efficiency rules take effect.

But the war is happening on other fronts as well. Opponents of LED question whether the energy spent manufacturing LED lights actually exceeds what they save over their life.

Fresh energy analyst Kate Ellis supplies an analysis, and the answer she asserts is, “No.”