WAYNE TWP. – The number of people impressed with Appalachian Lighting Systems is growing.

Last month, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis were photographed at the Community College of Allegheny County alongside a streetlight manufactured by the Wayne Township-based company.

A few weeks before that, Allegheny County announced that its jail experienced an 83 percent savings in lighting utility costs after installing Appalachian Lighting light-emitting diode fixtures there.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire stopped by the plant’s production floor, and he came away impressed as well.

“We’re going to try to help them grow and thrive,” said Altmire, D-4, McCandless Township. “It’s an easy sell if you can save 80 to 90 percent in energy costs, and if you have an American company against foreign competition.”

Altmire met Thursday with company and local officials to discuss how the federal government can help Appalachian Lighting Systems expand. One answer is simple – to be the company’s biggest customer.

Appalachian Lighting manufactures LED fixtures for streetlights, office lights and institutional lights.

Company President Dave McAnally said he is hopeful its products can be installed as lighting along the nation’s highways and in federal buildings across the United States.

And he had plenty of selling points to throw at Altmire Thursday. Changing over to LED lighting has the potential to deliver a multibillion-dollar short-term impact for installation projects.

In the long term, the fixtures being developed by Jim Wassel, Appalachian Lighting System’s chief science officer, have already delivered energy efficiency and massive energy savings in the Allegheny County Jail project and a test streetlight project in Ellwood City.

McAnally also cited reports from LED industry analysts such as Phillips Lighting that estimate Wassel’s innovations have the company at least two years ahead of its competition.

Another factor in Altmire’s “easy sell” assessment is that 75 percent of the components used in the company’s fixtures are made in the United States. McAnally said virtually all of the competing companies’ lights are made overseas.

Altmire said he would make an effort to include Appalachian Lighting in future federal legislation, including the federal Highway Reauthorization Bill, which sets road projects for the next five years.