Charlottetown moving from standard light bulbs to less expensive LEDs

Dave Stewart
Published on September 16, 2015

Kim Griffin, Maritime Electric, left, and Coun. Terry Bernard, chairman of public works, demonstrate the energy efficient LED lights the City of Charlottetown will be using to replace the old high-pressure sodium street lights in the city.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Working in conjunction with Maritime Electric to switch street lights, traffic signals

P.E.I.'s capital city might seem a little brighter than usual soon.

The City of Charlottetown, working in conjunction with Maritime Electric, has begun switching street lights and traffic signals from the standard high-pressure sodium lights to LEDs.

Counc. Terry Bernard, chairman of the public works committee, says LEDs are less expensive and use less electricity.

"We're going to be making the streets brighter and safer,'' Bernard said.

Currently, the city spends about $1.1 million per year on electricity. Once all the lights are changed, Bernard said the city estimates it will save taxpayers 30 per cent on its light bill.

"This is a project that we're looking at completing in five years (although) we're still negotiating with Maritime Electric on that.''

On streets with higher volumes of traffic, such as University Avenue and Queen Street, the city will be going with 72-watt LEDs which give off the light equivalent of a 150-watt standard bulb.

High volume intersections have traditionally carried 150-watt bulbs. They'll be switching to a 100-watt LED, which gives off light similar to a 250-watt standard bulb.

Residential streets will go from standard 70-watt bulbs to 50-watt LEDs, providing light that a normal 100-watt bulb would provide.

When The Guardian tweeted about the new LED lights during the council meeting on Monday, some tweeters responded that LEDs don't create enough heat in winter to melt the snow that sticks to them.

Bernard acknowledged snow and ice might stick to some lights longer than before.

"With the street lights it won't be a problem. They're pointing down. Snow lands on them so it doesn't affect them at all. Problem areas will be older lights which have a bigger shade beak.''

In some ways, the process of switching over to LEDs has been underway for a while. The city has been replacing burned out bulbs with LEDs and any new street lamps that have recently been put up have been fitted with an LED.

And, the LEDs were tested over the course of about a year on streets like Maple Avenue. The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission asked the city to test the system first before it would set a rental rate for the Island utility.

LED lights are known for their lifespan. They can last for 50,000 hours with some staying lit past 100,000 hours if they're well encapsulated. The lifetime of the high-pressure sodium lights can range from 2,000 to 20,000 hours.