PITTSBURGH – Appalachian Lighting Systems’ latest satisfied customer didn’t just write a letter to the company.

It called a press conference.

In a meeting Monday with media, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato showed off the new LED lights designed and manufactured by Wayne Township-based Appalachian Lighting Systems.

The company designed 860 light fixtures for use in the Allegheny County Jail’s common areas, where the lighting must remain on 24 hours a day for security reasons.

In a press release issued Monday, Onorato said the new lights will cut energy use by 83 percent, resulting in a savings of nearly $180,000 for this year alone, which means the $954,000 project could pay for itself in about five years.

Additionally, the life expectancy for the lights is upward of a quarter-century, which will all but eliminate light bulb purchases and changes from the jail’s budget and maintenance job orders.

Dave McAnally, president of Appalachian Lighting Systems, said Onorato and jail warden Ramon Rustin, as well as staff, raved about the light-emitting diode lights.

“The guards just love them because it’s brighter and they don’t need to change them,” McAnally said.

For Appalachian Lighting, the jail project is its second major contract, coming after an agreement to change all of Ellwood City’s more than 700 streetlights to LED fixtures.

The borough received a state grant for the initial 134 lights and will use the energy cost savings from those fixtures to make remaining changes.

McAnally said Appalachian Lighting is looking to expand its reach nationwide. There are fewer than a half-dozen companies in the world working with LED lighting innovations, he said, and only two of those are based in the United States.

But if McAnally read the Allegheny County officials correctly Monday, Appalachian Lighting won’t even have to leave the region to get future projects. “I think everyone looked around and asked, ‘Why we can’t do more of this?’ ” McAnally said.

With federal stimulus package funding set to be disbursed, McAnally and Jim Wassel, Appalachian Lighting’s founder and chief science officer, characterize the company as being ideal for stimulus project funding.

Ellwood City has already made a stimulus finding request through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission for $700,000, which would be used to accelerate the streetlight changeover.

If that project were approved, Appalachian Lighting would boost its workforce to more than 40 employees – it now employs between six and 11 people, depending on the status of projects.

“We know we fit the bill with job creation and superenergy efficiency,” Wassel said.