Committee eyes switch to LED lights

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NAUGATUCK — The borough is seeking long-term savings on street lights and municipal-owned lamp posts.

A committee formed to explore alternative energy options is considering a plan to put light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, on all 1,800 light posts across town.

“There is a potential for big savings,” committee member and Burgess Robert Neth said.

The borough now has metal-halide, high-pressure sodium and yellow-tinted lights to illuminate streets, fields, schools and parking lots. Those need to be replaced about every six years, officials said. The LED lights have a 10-year warranty and are expected to last between 15 and 20 years, officials said.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has recommended three companies that install LED lights to its member cities and towns, Department of Public Works Director Jim Stewart said. Stewart put out a request for proposal to those companies and two responded, he said.

The committee met with the companies’ representatives last week and has asked for more information, he said.

The overall cost to buy new lights and poles is between $900,000 and $1 million, Neth said. Naugatuck is eligible for green energy reimbursement grants for some of the cost.
Stewart said there is a potential savings of about $200,000 a year.

The companies that bid said they can offer lights that can have cameras attached to them or devices that automatically notify the installer when they are about to need replacing, Neth said.

“The technology available is amazing,” he said.

The plan is still being discussed by Naugatuck’s alternative energy committee and has not come before the Board of Mayor and Burgesses. Stewart said he anticipates bringing the board more information within a couple of months.

Several municipalities nationwide have converted lights to LED.

In September, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium put out a report of street lighting in 240 organizations that included 148 municipalities, 14 counties, 34 state departments of transportation, 17 investor-owned utilities and 32 municipally owned utilities, according to its website.

Among the findings:

• 62 percent of those responding indicated some use of LEDs, with 8 percent naming it as the most prominent technology in their system and 30 percent as the second most prominent.

• High-pressure sodium was still the most widely used outdoor lighting technology by far, with 86 percent of those responding indicating some use of HPS and 82 percent naming it as the most prominent technology.

• 36 percent of those responding indicated ongoing use of mercury vapor lights, which are much less efficient than HPS — showing that there’s a substantial amount of energy remaining to be saved through their replacement with modern, higher-performance lighting.

• The average age of all of the lamps was 15.3 years, with state DOTs reporting the highest average at 17.6 years.

• The average reported annual costs per light were $96 in electricity and $72 in operations and maintenance.