New­found­land Power shines light on LEDs

Com­pany con­sid­er­ing mak­ing the switch

The Compass - - COMMENTARY - BY BON­NIE BELEC bb­elec@thetele­gram.com

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 its 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 there have been gov­ern­ment fund­ing to change out fixtures, not in our ju­ris­dic­tion. We are eval­u­at­ing the eco­nom­ics of LEDs and the per­for­mance in our pi­lot project. The rates we don’t know what im­pact it will have on rates. We’re just con­tin­u­ing with the eval­u­a­tion,” 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 of their di­rec­tional qual­ity means, there is less main­te­nance, and they con­sume less en­ergy.

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