September 18, 2020, Sudbury Star – As the days get shorter and cooler, the lights shining our way at night are getting brighter and, in some cases, warmer.

Greater Sudbury is now two-thirds of the way through a project to convert streetlights across the city to more-efficient LED technology, with the expectation that the entire switchover will be complete by November.

“We have 7,200 lights done so far out of 10,999,” said Sajeev Shivshankaran, energy and facilities engineer, at a recent meeting of the city’s finance and administration committee.

The job was contracted out to RealTerm Energy through an LED Streetlight Program offered through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Shawn Turner, director of assets and fleet services, said RealTerm “did a design with photometrics and fixture selection” ahead of the conversion to ensure the new LED illumination is “at least as good” as the high-pressure sodium lighting it is replacing.

To date, there has been no need to add any new poles, he said, although “we may want to add some in the future, if the roadway or pedestrian traffic, or interaction with pedestrians at a roadway, would increase in a particular area.”

While the main advantage of LED is cost savings — as the lights are more long-lasting and energy-efficient — the quality of light is arguably superior, too, and the brightness can be dialled up or down depending on the circumstance.

This has led to be a bit of confusion as the new lights come on in Sudbury, at varying degrees of intensity.

“A couple of my constituents have pointed out that they have noticed that the brightness differs in different areas of the city,” noted Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan, who asked for an explanation regarding this inconsistency.

“You will see some differences in the quality or brightness, and that’s largely predicated on the location of the lighting, particularly factors such as road type,” said Turner. “Whether it’s an arterial road, whether there’s sidewalk, intersections, pedestrian interaction with the roadway. Obviously, the more pedestrians and cars, the more lighting, because it’s about providing a safer environment.”

He said the LED light should be equal or better to the sodium-vapour rays that people have been walking and driving under for years. 

“At minimum it will provide the lighting that was there and some of it will be enhanced, depending on the characteristics of the roadway,” said Turner.

Geoff McCausland, councillor for Ward 4, said he’s noticed the new lights coming on in parts of the Donovan, and he likes what he sees.

“It is an improvement in the light quality,” he said. “High-pressure sodium bulbs have very poor colour reproduction and poor contrast.”

Not only do LED lights outperform in those respects, he said, but they can be adjusted to suit quiet streets as well as busy ones.

“On the more neighbourhood-based roads, the colour temperature is warmer than on the arterial roads, where there is going to be more sunlight-style of lighting,” he said. “That’s based on best practice to ensure the busy roads have the best visibility, but the neighbourhood roads are a little more focused around quality of life and place, ensuring it feels a bit warmer and has that throwback in colour temperature, much like you light your living room at home.”

Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann said she was pleased to see the project moving ahead and hoped it could get a more high-profile airing at the next council meeting.

“This is a good news story for the community and it deserves to be highlighted in that light, pardon the pun,” she said.

The councillor was also eager, however, to see LED lighting put in place along the Junction Creek path through the Flour Mill, as was earlier promised.

“This was a budget option that was approved and the hope was it was going to be installed this summer,” she said.

Leisure services director Jeff Pafford said the engineering work for the park lighting had been completed and he anticipated the job would be tendered in the next week or two.

“The objective is to complete that project this year,” he said, while noting the parks department has been short-staffed due to COVID-19 so it “has been difficult to execute these types of projects.”

While it has taken some time for LED lighting to become the norm in Sudbury, the expectation is it will reap significant savings.

“Upon completion of the streetlight conversion, Realterm Energy estimates that the city will reduce energy consumption by 7,399,527 kWh or 61 per cent, with expected monetary savings of approximately $1,059,479 or 41 percent,” a staff report indicates. 

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