Not only will the move save about $91,000 a year in electricity costs, the city will get a provincial rebate of $322,175.
Bill Lautenbach, the city’s general manager of growth and development, said the retrofits will have to be done quickly to take advantage of the rebate from the Ontario Energy Board.
“That work would have to be done before the end of the year, or we lose that allocation,” Lautenbach said to councillors at a meeting of the finance committee Sept. 18.
Compared the old sodium lights, which last an average of five years, the LED lights are expected to last 20 years before they need to be replaced. With the rebate, the city is getting back $245 for each light it replaces. But if it waits until 2013, the rebate drops to $20 per light. Eventually, all of the city’s 14,500 streetlights will need to be changed, Lautenbach said.
“So this is a good first step, to get a big chunk of the work done, and we will get $300,000 to defray this cost.”
He said Sudbury Hydro has a list of pre-qualified contractors who can do the work, and has already prepared a tender for the lighting retrofits they’re ready to issue, awaiting a decision from council.
Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk described it as a good news story for the city.
“It shows that we’re taking the initiative, and there’s good payback on this,” Matichuk said. “This is something that is very good for our city.”
But Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau, while supporting the plan, was unhappy council is only hearing about the program now, after it was brought to their attention by their energy auditor, a new position at the city.
“In my opinion, this is low-lying fruit,” Barbeau said. “This is something staff could have taken advantage of long before we hired an energy auditor.
“Now we’re at a stage where we have to rush to finish by the end of 2012, because we weren’t proactive enough to begin sooner.”
Barbeau also took issue with telling the public the lights will last for 20 years, something he says is far from certain.
“There’s going to be problems with these,” he said. “If photocells start to go – and apparently that’s quite common with LED lights – we won’t save the money. We have to be careful with the messaging we put out with programs like this … We shouldn’t say we’re going to save more money than we actually are.
“So to say every LED light will not have to be maintained, not have to be touched for 20 years, is completely misleading.”
In response, Lautenbach agreed, but said the factors Barbeau is referring to have been built into the cost estimates.
“You’re absolutely correct,” he said. “Not every one of these will last 20 years. Some of these will have to be replaced.”