Monday January 10, 2011

Local News

LED Streetlights A Bright Idea

It's time the City of Chilliwack looked at more ways to go green



ith the demise of incandescent light bulbs some cities are looking at ways to reduce energy costs through green initiatives like LED street lighting.


Last December, the City of Port Coquitlam partnered with BC Hydro to install 9 LED streetlight fixtures as part of a pilot project aimed at reducing energy consumption. The City is also looking at bringing 60 more LED lights online for another test of the system's cost-effectiveness.

Additionally, PoCo installed an adaptive control system to determine the full potential regarding energy savings of the LED street light fixtures.

PoCo uses 200 watt high pressure sodium lights and according to a report on, the City can expect energy cost savings to be substantial.

“Our energy savings are expected to be 50% with an additional 35% savings coming from the adaptive controls,” said Allen Jensen, manager of environmental services for the city of Port Coquitlam.

The City intends to convert all of their 2,763 streetlights as well as an additional 780 lights currently leased from BC Hydro but they won't know exactly how much they'll be saving until all the data is collected and scrutinized from the December pilot project.

According to a March 2010 report in the Columbia Valley News, the lights are mercury-free and will provide better light at major intersections, have a better colour that reduces dark areas between streetlights and reduces light pollution. The LED lights require little or no maintenance for 15-20 years and save $1,680.00 per 9,636 KwH. Current 150-200 watt sodium bulbs last 5-years in comparison.

An alternative is available for existing light standards, called an adaptive control systems, supplied by Streetlight Intelligence in Victoria. This system allows light levels to be individually set on each standard based on the time of day. The lights can also be remotely dimmed during certain times of the day and during low traffic hours.

The lights can be installed quickly, usually in one or two days, and have a lifespan

According to Rod Sanderson, director of the Chilliwack engineering department, the City is already using some LED lights but is limited due to the expense of converting. The lights are approximately $2000 each, so the conversion is pricey.

"We replaced all the incandescent traffic signal beacons with LED type beacons. The energy savings, (approximately 90%) are encouraging; however the capital cost is very high," said Sanderson in an e-mail to the Voice last week. "The capital cost is important both in the initial cost/benefit calculation for the project but also a little later on when we suffer unexplained premature failure."

According to the manufacturer, the initial cost of converting can be reclaimed in 2-5-years.

In a BC government April 2009 news release, Vincent Krynski, Streetlight Intelligence CEO said that “The cleanest source of energy is the energy that isn’t used. Streetlight’s technology makes a great deal of sense when you consider the significant efficiencies it can achieve by conserving electricity, saving public utility costs and supporting a greener, cleaner environment.”

Sanderson said the City of Chilliwack is definitely aware of LED lights and will be looking at them in the future but he said they need more data.

"We learn of these from suppliers and colleagues at neighbouring municipalities. The outlook is encouraging however, there are some issues to consider prior to embarking upon a street light replacement program," Sanderson wrote.

Sanderson can use PoCo as sort of a litmus test strip regarding cost-effectiveness, once they have assimilated their pilot project data.

"I am looking forward to a larger organization, the Ministry of Transportation, or City of Vancouver or BC Hydro, to run a large scale test and offer smaller municipalities the data for our use in evaluating the life-cycle cost benefit," he said.

Eventually, the lights can be integrated with solar and wind powered systems.

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