NB Power plans to replace 72,000 street lights across the province with LED lights, which are more efficient and environmentally-friendly, according to the utility.

The LED (light-emitting diode) lights will also provide safety benefits to drivers because they produce a higher quality of light and are more reliable, said Transportation Minister Claude Williams.

All future light installations will also use LED lights, officials said.

The LEDs "will result in significant annual energy savings and environmental benefits for our province," Sherry Thomson, the vice-president of customer service, distribution and transmission stated in a release.

'We are excited to be among the first jurisdictions to provide our customers with this leading-edge technology.'—Sherry Thomson, NB Power

The replacement lights, which will be supplied by Halifax-based LED Roadway Lighting Ltd., are expected to save about $6 million over 20 years, said Thomson.

Although they are more expensive to purchase, they use about half the electricity of the existing high pressure sodium lights and last about 20 years compared to the current six, she said. That means less installation and maintenance costs.

Environmental benefits

The new lights will also reduce greenhouse gases by about 324,000 tonnes over the 20 years — the equivalent of removing 3,000 vehicles from the road, Thomson said.

"We are excited to be among the first jurisdictions to provide our customers with this leading-edge technology as we pursue our goal of transforming New Brunswick into an energy management leader in North America," she said.

The announcement follows a three-year pilot project using LED lights in 40 communities across the province, said Gaëtan Thomas, the president and chief executive officer of NB Power.

It's also part of an overall strategy, he said.

"Our goal with the Reduce and Shift Demand strategy is to lay the groundwork over the next decade for minimizing the need to build new generation facilities," Thomas said.

"Together these efforts, and many more like them, will help keep rates low and stable for our customers over the long term."

NB Power will replace the existing street lights over the next five years, beginning in the spring.

The LEDs will be manufactured at a facility in Amherst.