Jefferson Street viaduct

Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — The Jefferson Street Viaduct’s lighting is one of the signature looks for Ottumwa once night falls. It could be changing to a more flexible, energy efficient system on Alliant Energy’s dime.

Well, most of the cost, anyway.

Brad Grefe of Area 15 said replacement of the lighting with a new LED system should save the city at least $3,000 per year and slash electrical usage from 23,000 watts for the four arrays to an estimated 9,600 watts.

Grefe said the system under consideration is from Musco lighting. It runs $78,000, including installation and a 10-year warranty. Slightly more than $50,000 from Alliant’s Hometown Rewards program will cover the bulk of the cost, and Main Street Ottumwa is willing to make a one-time, $25,000 grant toward the project. Other, unspecified donors would cover the remainder.

The Hometown Rewards program created incentives for cities to cut electrical use by providing funding for an energy efficiency program if the city hit targets prior to the award.

“Basically, the hometown rewards program from Alliant Energy is something they’ve been doing for the last several years,” as required by state regulations, Grefe said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to be the last community to go through that program as the Legislature changed that rule again.”

The idea of improving the lighting was an obvious possibility, said Grefe. The old array is in need of repairs, and the cost on that wasn’t going down.

“If we wanted to fix these up in the future, maintenance was going to be even more expensive than it was already,” he said.

The LED system will allow the city to change the color projected onto the bridge. That has been done for events in this past, such as breast cancer awareness month, but LED lights would make it easier.

Mayor Tom Lazio praised the plan, though the city council did not take a formal vote on the plans. The item was on Tuesday’s council agenda as a report, and did not request a vote.

Ottumwa has scored some significant savings on electrical bills with similar, energy efficient upgrades. Earlier this month the city said the bills for Bridge View Center fell significantly after the installation of a new climate control system. The reduction of electrical use was so significant that the bills only approached the previous level in the third year after installation, even as Alliant’s rates continued to rise.

The council also tweaked a couple of ordinances to clear the way for new housing options. The first involves a planned renovation of 202 E. Fourth St. The site will become multi-family housing, but was granted an adjustment involving parking.

A second tweak was designed to allow for construction of a duplex. City Planner Kevin Flanagan said the plans are “a good sweet spot for us” and match up well with existing structures in the area.

Bob Schmidt, who plans the duplex, received no questions from the city council.

“I’ve seen some of his work,” Lazio said. “He does good work.”

Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

— Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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