Contrary to previous reports, there are energy-saving LED lights on the giant spruce tree in St. Paul's Rice Park -- but only a few.
"We were approached late in the game to donate 10 strands of LED lights or about 360 lights," said Tom Hoen, spokesman for Xcel Energy, a company working with Capitol City Partnership on the Rice Park display.
That means 360 of the 60,000 lights are the energy-saving type.
Partnership spokeswoman Sue Gonsior said that when they realized that New York City and others were going LED, "we figured out a way to put on 10 strands of LED lights to demonstrate that we were committed to moving in that direction. Next year the tree will be completely lit with LED lights."
It's a good plan considering the potential savings. Decking the tree in LED instead of incandescent mini-lights means dropping the tree's lighting bill from $1,300 to $130, and carbon emissions from 18.7 to about 4 tons, according to estimates by the State Energy Office.
Meanwhile, across town, it's likely to be energy catch-up at the Capitol next year, too. The outdoor holiday trees there, scheduled to be turned on Dec. 5, are wearing incandescent lights, according to Jim Schwartz, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Administration. Changing them to LEDs means we would catch up to Wisconsin, which made the switch to LED lights for its tree display in 2004.
And if you're wondering about the lights on the tree outside the governor's residence, they're LED, said Brian McClung, director of communications for Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The switch was made last year.