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Policy: Environment & Energy

Ball being lowered in Grand Rapids gets makeover

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Associated Press,Energy Department,Michigan,Energy and Environment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A lighted ball to be lowered at a western Michigan celebration on New Year's Eve has received a makeover to improve its energy efficiency.

As part of its sponsorship of a celebration Tuesday in downtown Grand Rapids, utility Consumers Energy has replaced 450 halogen light bulbs used in previous years with light-emitting diode bulbs.

The unit of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. says the new bulbs use about 80 percent less electricity than similar halogen bulbs and will last up to 20 times longer. The utility hopes the switch will encourage its customers to do the same to save energy.

The utility is putting a promise to help save energy "into action with the new LEDs lighting up the ball," Garrick Rochow, vice president of customer operations and quality, said in a statement.

Thousands of people are expected Tuesday night for the event, officially called the Fox KIA HOT New Year's Eve Party. Event sponsors will light the ball at 6:30 p.m. and the ball is scheduled to begin its 100-foot descent one minute before midnight.

The ball will use a little more than 24 kilowatt hours of electricity, down from 116 kilowatt hours at New Year's Eve events in past years, the utility said. That saved energy could power 115 active video game consoles for the same amount of time or light 18 average Michigan homes for a day.

The event comes after a week in which hundreds of thousands of utility customers in Michigan were without electrical service because of an ice storm. On Sunday, CMS Energy reported that essentially all its 416,000 affected customers were back online.

The New Year's Eve event takes place around Rosa Parks Circle. Consumers Energy among those sponsors for all six years of the party.

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