This bright idea could save taxpayers $163,000 a year 

February 25, 2022 The Voice – You don’t have to be the brightest bulb to recognize that this all makes good sense.

Pelham Council has commenced the process of converting the Town’s streetlights to LED (light-emitting diode) units, which offer significant benefits.

Jason Marr, Pelham’s Director of Public Works, told the Voice that Real Term Energy, which has its head office in Annapolis, Maryland, was recommended to be the sole source for the project through a procurement process conducted on behalf of Ontario municipalities.

“RealTerm Energy has done many similar projects across Ontario, including for the City of Niagara Falls and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. They are by far the most experienced firm in doing these LED lighting conversions,” said Marr.

Founded in 2013, RealTerm Energy is considered to be a North American leader in LED and “smart” lighting, with successfully completed upgrades to some 200 Ontario municipalities.

LED lighting checks a lot of boxes for cost-conscious municipalities. It is less expensive to operate and maintain than conventional fluorescent lighting and is also the preferred choice from ecological protection and public safety perspectives.

Pelham Councillor Bob Hildebrandt, who serves on the Utility Sustainability Committee (“That’s the official name, but we just call ourselves the ‘energy savings guys,’”) said that Town Council approved a streetlight conversion binding letter of engagement with RealTerm Energy on February 7. The estimated cost to replace the entire streetlight network in Pelham is $621,810.

“The first step this year is a budget allocation of $250,000,” said Hildebrandt. “The entire project is scheduled for completion over the next two to three years, contingent on future capital budget allocations.”

An Investment Grade Audit (IGA) is an initial component of the process, involving a comparison of the prior energy consumption with the post-conversion LED system, using highly-accurate data from a custom photometric design.

“The IGA takes a couple months, and will form the basis of a more detailed estimate to complete the LED conversion program,” said Hildebrandt. “Once this task is complete the Town will be able to more accurately estimate the full cost of the LED streetlight conversion project.”

Information shared with the Voice by Hildebrandt indicates that Pelham has a total of 1322 streetlights, of which 1260 are a standard “cobra head” style, and 62 are decorative. The current street lighting network uses an average of 708,326 kWh of electricity annually, which equates to approximately $164,000 in operation costs, plus annual maintenance costs of $60,000. The Town currently expends approximately $223,000 per year on the network with the average annual cost per fixture being $169. The proposed 2022 budget for the operation and maintenance of streetlights is $260,000, which includes maintenance of Regional traffic signals.

Following the LED conversion, annual electricity usage is estimated to drop to 184,132 kWh. Operating costs of $45,107 and maintenance costs of $11,975 are anticipated, with a total operational cost of approximately $60,000 ($43 per fixture.) This represents an annual operation and maintenance cost reduction of approximately $160,000, or 74 percent.

The payback for the cost of the project, based on estimated savings, is a mere five years.

From an environmental perspective, the conversion program represents an annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction of approximately 16 metric tonnes. Based on an estimated lifespan of 100,000 hours for the LED units, this represents almost 372 fewer metric tonnes of GHG over the entire streetlight network.

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