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City speeds up LED streetlight plan
Northland Utilities approves acceleration, city hoping for a half-million dollars in annual savings

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 17, 2013

The city's community energy planning chairperson Dan Wong says the city will be speeding up its light emitting diode (LED) lighting retrofit program, which based on current electricity rates could save the city almost a half-million dollars annually.

In February, city council gave administration the go-ahead to ask Northland Utilities to replace 1,600 street lights over three years, instead of the initial plan which called for it to be done over nine years. In a March 19 letter to the city, the utility company said it would do it.

"We agree the LED project is going extremely well and it is a win-win for both the city and Northland Utilities," states the letter. "(Northland Utilities) will include a plan to accelerate the LED streetlight retrofit program to reach completion by the end of 2016."

Initial plans had the program running until sometime between 2020 and 2022.

As part of a pilot project, since 2010 the city has replaced 192 high-powered sodium lights (HPS) with LED lights. The city is expecting another 200 to be replaced this year, although this could change depending on Northland Utilities.

Each LED bulb lasts about 70,000 hours, equivalent to 10 years, which is about twice as long as an HPS bulb. The city stated in a news release that "the project will save enough electricity to power 108 homes for an entire year and will save the city over 975,000 kilowatt hours in electricity annually."

Based on recent electricity rates, the city says the pilot project has also resulted in electricity cost savings of about $4,400 per month.

"By agreeing to approve this change-out program, by 2016 we are going to see about $430,000 in annual savings at current electricity rates," said Wong. "The city said that figure may fluctuate, depending on how the utility company recovers its capital costs of doing the retrofit, including the amortization costs throughout the life of the lamp, as well as overall maintenance costs.

"We do know from looking at jurisdictions that savings will be within that range," said city energy coordinator Remy Gervais.

Based on the community energy plan of 2004, the city is aiming to also reduce energy use of municipal operations by 10 per cent by 2014.

Gervais said electricity costs for streetlights represent about four per cent of the city's entire energy costs, compared to other larger items like heating, water and sewer pumping, and fuel costs for transportation vehicles. He couldn't pin a solid figure to how much would go to streetlights specifically every year.

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