Newfoundland Power shines light on LEDs
Carbonear, St. John’s at centre of pilot project since 2009
Newfoundland Power is considering following its fellow utility companies in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in making the switch to LED street lights as a five-year pilot project nears its completion.
Mike Comerford, director of regulatory affairs with Newfoundland Power, said the pilot project got underway in 2009 and involves 40 street lights in St. John’s and Carbonear.
“LED (light emitting diode) is becoming new technology that utilities are getting excited about and municipalities because it provides a level of energy savings,” he said.
One of the test areas in the capital city is Blue Jacket Place in Kenmount Terrace, but some of the residents didn’t even notice the difference. A second area is along The Boulevard area of St. John’s.
“I’ve got two small kids. I don’t get out much after dark,” said one woman laughing when she was asked what she thought of the change.
A man said he just thought they were brighter because they were new.
Another resident, who said she is from the United Kingdom, said she is familiar with the LED lights.
“I got one out at the bottom of the drive. I don’t notice it really. It’s brighter obviously, we get more light than the dull ones. But I’m used to U.K. lighting which is a lot brighter than here,” she said.
Comerford said Newfoundland Power has 60,000 street lights across the province so it’s taking its time to analyze the data it collects from the pilot project before making a decision.
“Right now we are evaluating the technology. It’s getting pretty mature. We’re getting into the analysis from the pilot project to evaluate the lights. At some point into the future like other utilities we will likely provide this as an option,” he said.
“The costs have come down in recent years with regards to the purchase cost, which is encouraging for us, and the lights have been getting better with regards to the design and efficiency so based on that we are encouraged by the technology,” Comerford said.
While he didn’t say how much it could cost the company to replace the lights, a search on the Internet shows the LED light fixtures are around $350.
One of Newfoundland Power’s biggest customers is municipalities, which pay a monthly rate for their street lights. Comerford said town leaders have been asking questions about the change.
“Municipalities have inquired with Newfoundland Power as to our progress of switching to LED and we have provided them with information into some of the considerations we have to take into account before we can do that,” he said.
Those considerations involve the upfront cost of buying the new fixtures as well as the long-term electrical savings.
“Some jurisdictions out there have been getting government funding to change out fixtures, not in our jurisdiction. We are evaluating the economics of LEDs and the performance in our pilot project. We don’t know what impact it will have on rates,” Comerford said.
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) president Churence Rogers said street lighting is an big expense for towns and some members are experimenting with different technology.
“I know there a number of towns converting to using those kinds of lights for experimental purposes,” he said, adding over the past few years there have been more exhibitors attending the annual MNL convention presenting different lighting options.
“We’re being told LED lights are much more efficient, but the problem is you’ve got hundreds of lights in some towns who pay a monthly fee and it’s very expensive to keep street lights going. So it’s a matter of where do we go from here,” Rogers said.
Comerford said the project will continue into 2014 and he expects not long into the new year there will be some options to present to customers.
According to Comerford, LEDs reduce light pollution because there is less maintenance, and they consume less energy.