Nova Scotia

Dexter dismisses LED plan complaints

Premier Darrell Dexter is standing behind the province's plan to convert street lights to LED lights, despite criticism about the costs.

Premier Darrell Dexter is standing behind the province's plan to convert street lights to LED lights, despite criticism about the costs.

While it will cost money upfront, Dexter says the $100 million undertaking is expected to save $18 million per year in the future.

He's responding to complaints from the head of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities who says the plan will hurt communities that are in debt.

"This is a program that is actually designed to help the municipalities save money at a time when what they're complaining about is their inability to save money," Dexter said Thursday.

"So it's the equivalent of somebody giving you a 'Yes' for an answer and you trying to kick them in the shins. I don't understand it."

Billy Joe MacLean, union president and mayor of Port Hawkesbury, claims municipalities were blindsided by the decision to switch over. He's vowing to fight the move.

But Energy Minister Charlie Parker said not only were municipalities consulted about the LED light plan, they requested it last September.

"They asked that we convert to LED lights. They wanted more energy-efficient lights throughout the province. Many of the municipalities have been pushing for this a long time. So we acted on their concerns," Parker said.

Legislation to make LED street lights mandatory was introduced Thursday in the legislature. The province says it will be the first law of its kind in North America.

All 120,000 roadway lights in Nova Scotia are to be converted to the LED bulbs within the next five years. About 10 per cent belong to municipalities. Nova Scotia Power owns the rest.

A company in Amherst, LED Roadway Lighting Ltd., has the contract to manufacture the eco-friendly lights.

LED bulbs use less energy and have a longer lifespan than regular bulbs. Dexter says the conversion should cut energy costs by 50 per cent and decrease greenhouse gases by 31,000 tonnes.

Last year, Halifax, Amherst, Berwick, Canso, Lunenburg, Antigonish and Mahone Bay received funding to start changing over their street lights.

With files from The Canadian Press

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