City reviews lighting switch

A savings of 47 per cent on energy costs by switching city streetlights to LED is one of the findings of a study by the city that has perked councillors’ ears.

A savings of 47 per cent on energy costs by switching city streetlights to LED is one of the findings of a study by the city that has perked councillors’ ears.

The city’s climate action charter compliance committee compared current streetlights, dimming technology, LED lighting and LED lighting plus dimming in the study.

“What staff found was that the dimming technology was really too complex. It broke down, it was labour intensive, it was not reliable, so they are recommending that the dimming technology would be a bad investment,” said Coun. Garry Litke. “They did, however, find that the LED lighting reduced energy costs by about 47 per cent, so when we consider we spend about $150,000 a year on streetlighting energy, (it represents) a savings of about $50,000 a year.”

The catch, of course, is replacing current streetlights to LED lights does not come cheap. What city staff has recommended is the streetlights be converted over a period of 15 years. Litke said Penticton would then be one of the first communities to exclusively run LED lighting. He said LED lights are becoming less and less expensive while the cost of energy continues to rise.

“It wouldn’t make sense to just spend $2 million right now and change over all the streetlights because we would lose the potential cost savings and reduction of price in LED lighting over the next several years. So a phased plan is being recommended,” said Litke, adding it could be done block by block or by spitting the city into quadrants.

The report also shows that during the comparison tests, residents that had the LED lights complimented the quality and liked it a lot better than the existing streetlight.

Council unanimously voted to introduce a line item in the next budget. City staff will also investigate if any grants are available from Fortis for the changeover.

“There is also considerable interest from other municipalities about this research, so it may well be more municipalities will come on board and as that happens we should partner with them in purchasing,” said Litke.