News that Andover is turning off hundreds of street lights in an effort to save tens of thousands of dollars on its electricity bill has locals wondering whether Wellesley might do the same.
I asked Dick Joyce, who heads up Wellesley’s Municipal Light Plant, and he says this is a subject of great interest. The MLP has been working on a street light usage plan with town officials and will make a presentation at a Board of Selectmen meeting in September.
“The Town has a goal to reduce street light usage by 20% by 2013 and we will meet that goal by installing LED’s [light-emitting diodes] and probably removing some of the existing lights,” according to Joyce. “So far, in calendar year 2009, we have reduced the Town’s street light usage by 6%.”
Joyce says that you’d have to “turn off three lights in Wellesley to get the same savings that towns and cities served by investor-owned electric utilities receive by turning off one light because our street light rate ($.1338/per kwh) is about one-third their cost. We also have installed the most efficient lights ….. we only have 8 incandescent lights and no mercury vapor out of almost 3,900 streetlights.”
The town has two LED pilot programs underway involving five lights on Donizetti and four on Washington Street.
“I think the decision to disconnect some of the street lights will depend on the cost-benefit/payback from the LED’s,” Joyce says. “I believe we can achieve the 20% reduction goal just by replacing the metal halide (ornamental lights) bulbs with LED’s.”
LED’s are all the rage among municipalities, with some using federal stimulus funds to convert. LED’s are relatively expensive, but proponents say using them pays off in the long run because they consume less energy and last longer than traditional lights.
By the way, if you want to report a street light outage, there’s a form on the town website here.