Don’t look now, but the Liberty Memorial‘s eternal flame is poised for a comeback…
It’s been nearly a year since the once proud flame flickered mightily high atop the downtown landmark. The fake flame went dark last March as part of museum efforts to reduce costs and save energy.
“This was part of a three-part energy conservation savings plan,” says Denise Rendina of the National World War I Museum. “All three of those things cost $180,000 and we figure the payback on what we’ve done will be 2 1/2 years.”
A handful of years back the museum pegged the cost of keeping the flame alive at $45,000 a year but said it couldn’t afford to and sought donations.
However after doing an energy audit, the museum discovered the actual annual cost of lighting the flame to be around 100 grand.
That was the really bad news.
The good news is the flame will come back on this Friday and “We should see a 30 percent reduction now in that cost by reducing the amount of steam pressure that comes out and eliminating a thing called the ‘standby mode,’ ” Rendina says.
In a nutshell, the standby mode kept the flame’s pilot light ablaze 24/7, wasting energy during the day parts in which it was invisible to the eye.
Unfortunately, “Even by doing this reduction we’re still spending more than we originally assumed,” Rendina says.
The $64 million question: Is keeping the eternal flame lighted affordable to the museum in these challenging financial times?
“Yes, it’s an important part of what we are – of the museum and the memorial and what we represent that’s important to the community,” Rendina says. “People care about it a lot.”
And while there’s no longer a specific Save the Flame fund, “If somebody wants to earmark their donation, we can put that in a line item that goes to the flame,” Rendina says.