At night, whether you’ve been walking, driving, or looking down on Sault Ste. Marie from a higher vantage point, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a different glow around the City than there has been in the past. In 2015, City Council directed the Sault Ste. Marie PUC to undertake a conversion of the City’s streetlights to LED fixtures. There are slightly more than 9,000 streetlights in Sault Ste. Marie, so making the switch has been a big undertaking, but the job has now almost been completed.
For a variety of reasons, the last few years have been a good time to move to LED lighting. The old High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) streetlights that have now been replaced were first installed more than 25 years ago and were near the end of their working lives. Compared to HPS, LED streetlights use dramatically less power—about 50% less—which is significant in today’s era of climbing electricity prices. The LED fixtures also have a lifespan of 20 years, versus about five years for HPS lamps, meaning that they will be replaced far less frequently which results in lower maintenance costs.
Putting in new energy-efficient lights also allows for the fixtures to be outfitted with modern technology. The new lights come installed with wireless adaptive control modules. These allow lighting levels to be adjusted remotely to further reduce energy consumption. They also enable malfunctioning lights to transmit information about problems wirelessly to the PUC, thereby reducing the time needed to dispatch repair crews.
From the perspective of the individual citizen, the new LED lights also bring practical improvements. The new lights provide a cooler, more natural light. This cool white tone makes for better illumination and visibility of objects at night. The lights also focus their light tightly and more directionally than the old HPS models, so there is less light dispersion up into the sky or on to nearby properties.
By making the change when we did, we were also able to take advantage of an incentive offer from IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator – the Crown Corporation that operates Ontario’s electricity market) that offset approximately 10 % of the costs of installation.
In all, the move to LED lighting for the City’s streetlights has resulted in a better quality of light, is good for the environment, and will yield significant monetary savings over the long term. It is a project that I was happy to support and I am glad to have seen it brought to fruition during this Council term.
For more on the project, please visit the Sault Ste. Marie PUC’s website.