Guelph says it can save $750K by using LED street lights

The City of Guelph is testing out new LED lights in hopes of saving taxpayers about $750,000 a year.

LEDs bulbs also reduce urban light pollution

An example of an LED street light. The city of Guelph will be running a test LED project until March and may eventually replace all of the city's sodium street lights with LEDs. (halifax.ca)

The City of Guelph is testing out new LED street lights in hopes of saving taxpayers about $750,000 a year.

Right now, the city's 13,000 street lights are powered by high pressure sodium bulbs. Approximately 4,000 of those bulbs are replaced every year at a cost of $500,000.

Alex Chapman, the city's program minister of corporate energy, says the electricity costs are substantial as well. 

"It's our single-biggest line item besides our waste-water treatment plant. So that really makes it attractive as an opportunity to reduce energy costs," said Chapman. 

Guelph will test four different makes of LED, or light emitting diode, lights along Edinburgh Road and Municipal Street until March. The city will consider cost, energy efficiency, maintenance and even community preference, according to a release.

LEDs can reduce light pollution

Besides saving the city money, the LED street lights may also have other benefits, says Chapman.

"Cities that have deployed LED street lighting have found that because they're so much more focused, they reduce the amount of urban sky glow.

"So there are people actually in the city of Los Angeles, where they've deployed LED street lighting, where they can actually see the stars again in the middle of the city, which is quite exciting," said Chapman. 

The LED bulbs come with a steep price tag: each light costs about $800. 

But the bulbs come with a 20-year warranty, use less electricity, and Chapman believes they will pay for themselves in about six years. 

If the pilot goes well a city-wide rollout could happen as early as the fall.

Other municipalities in Ontario switching to LED street lights include Guelph-Eramosa Township, Mississauga, London and Barrie.

With files from the CBC's Jackie Sharkey

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