Falmouth switching to LEDs for streetlight savings

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FALMOUTH — LED streetlights are more energy efficient and last longer than their more traditional counterparts, which is why the town is set to install them in every neighborhood.

Demonstration LED streetlights have been put up at Town Hall and the Falmouth Memorial Library so town staff can analyze how well they operate and what color temperatures work best.

The color temperature of a light is used to indicate its color tint, since there are different shades of white light, according to EarthLED.com: A warm light generally means a yellow type of white, and cool refers to a blue kind of white.

The new LED fixtures were installed in late August and Kimberly Darling, the town’s energy and sustainability coordinator, is collecting public feedback on how they look and the light they shed through Oct. 1.

“This is an effort that has multiple benefits,” Town Manager Nathan Poore said this week about the plan to switch to LED streetlights.

Those benefits include energy savings, more options for fixture selection and design, greater flexibility for placement and removal of streetlights and overall cost savings because the town would own the fixtures instead of leasing them from the power company, Poore said.

He said a new state law now allows municipalities to own streetlight fixtures instead of having to pay a monthly rental charge of about $10, along with paying for the energy actually used to power the lights.

The savings to Falmouth of switching to LED streetlights would “be significant,” according to Poore. He said the cost to purchase and install an LED fixture would be around $400 per light.

The town now spends nearly $66,000 per year to lease 595 streetlights from Central Maine Power, along with almost $31,800 annually to power them.

Poore also said the life expectancy of each LED fixture “and many of its components will reach 25 or more years,” while the failure rate for the components is only 2 percent.

“Also, the LED fixture will use far less energy and there will be savings on that part of the monthly bill (and our) carbon footprint is also reduced dramatically.”

So, Poore said, the town would likely end up seeing a savings of between 40 to 50 percent in its annual streetlight costs, and a four-to-six-year payback on the initial capital investment to purchase the LED lights.

And, Poore said, the new fixtures would also have less back-lighting, up-lighting, and glare than more traditional streetlights.

He said the LED streetlight pilot project was designed to give the public a chance to see the lights in action and ask questions “before we make the investment to switch over the entire system.”

“We are looking at a warmer range of about 3,000 kelvins in residential areas and 4,000 in more commercial and mixed-use areas of town,” Poore said.

The lights installed at Town Hall and the library include fixtures with both 3,000 and 4,000 color temperature lights, he said, so residents can see the difference.

Poore said the “decision to change over all the streetlights has been made,” however, decisions on the “precise design for each light and the color temperature will be decided (later) this fall.”

Poore anticipates the town will hire a subcontractor to maintain the new streetlights instead of relying on town staff.

Overall, Poore called the streetlight conversion “a pretty big deal” for Falmouth.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Falmouth is working with RealTerm Energy and On Target Utility Services to install new LED streetlights across town. The project started with pilot streetlights installed at Town Hall and the Falmouth Memorial Library in late August. From left are John Conroy, from On Target, Mike Miller, RealTerm Energy consultant, Kimberly Darling, the town’s energy and sustainability coordinator, Town Manager Nathan Poore and Scott Connor, also from On Target.

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