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MED slowly converting to LEDs for street lights

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MASSENA - The Massena Electric Department has installed more than 30 LED street lights in the village over the past several yearsand as the technology becomes more affordable or funding becomes available they’re hoping to continue doing so.

MED Deputy Superintendent Dale F. Raymo said 18 of the lights were installed in the Northview neighborhood on Marie, Lawrence and Kathleen streets with five or six of the lights installed on Ober Street and five installed on Chase Street.

“The feedback we’ve gotten on the light quality and the color is very good,” MED Superintendent Andrew J. McMahon said. “We haven’t have any maintenance issues.”

Mr. Raymo explained traditional street lights, which are lit by high-pressure sodium bulbs, emit a light that’s accompanied by a yellowish haze, while the LED lights emit a clearer whiter light.

“You’ll definitely notice the difference,” he said.

Mr. McMahon added the LED lights also do a better job lighting the area they’re supposed to, without “spilling over” into areas that aren’t intended to be lit, such as people’s front yards.

“With the high-pressure sodium lights, energy is wasted lighting up areas that aren’t necessary,” he said.

In addition to providing a higher quality light, Mr. Raymo said the LED lights use approximately one-third of the energy used by a traditional bulb.

Another benefit is since the bulbs use less energy, MED’s peak usage, which typically comes between 5 and 6 p.m. when street lights are usually coming on during the winter months, is reduced, meaning the amount of energy MED must purchase is also reduced. That translates into savings for MED customers.

MED first installed LED street lights on Chase Street in the spring of 2010, followed by the lights on Ober Street in summer of 2011 and the lights in Northview this past spring.

Mr. McMahon said two years ago the fixtures cost $550 a piece. This past spring they were $400 each. The lamps for a standard street light though cost approximately $95, meaning there is significant up-front cost.

The 18 lights installed this past spring, Mr. McMahon said, were paid for through the Releaf program and a grant from Alcoa.

“We went through, trimmed all the trees and planted some new ones,” Mr. Raymo said. “At the same time, we changed all of the heads.”

Over the 25-year lifespan though they’re expecting to get from their LED lamps, Mr. McMahon said the cost ends up about the same, as the traditional bulbs end up being replaced every four years. But as the cost of LED lighting continues to decrease, the prospects of converting more of the system’s 1,200 street lights looks more and more appealing.

“It’s all about where the technology goes,” Mr. McMahon said. “The cost of the lights has gone down and we’ve gotten some grants that have helped us do some smaller projects. If the right grant comes along, I could envision us moving to the LED lights pretty quickly based on our experience and the feedback from customers.”

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