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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Outdoor Lighting: Cooper installs LEDs in Ohio, Baltimore fights utility over SSL

Bryan, Ohio is realizing 30% to 35% in energy savings – 5% to 10% better than projected – after installing a mix of LED-based cobrahead and post-top luminaires in place of high-pressure-sodium (HPS) lights. Baltimore, Maryland hopes to start a transition to LED-based solid-state lighting (SSL) for its 70,000 street lights, but the local utility is blocking such a move using safety concerns as a reason whereas a local newspaper suspects revenue from maintenance services is the actual motivation.

In Bryan, the city sought replacements for 150W HPS fixtures. The city selected a mix of 80W Cooper Streetworks OVH LED Cobraheads and 70W CLB Generation LED Decorative Post Top Luminaires. Cooper won the business to replace 329 of the 1400 total lights that the city plans to upgrade. The selection process included four vendors competing to deliver products with a 4000K color temperature.

"Many of our existing streetlights were Cooper Lighting fixtures and we believe that Cooper is an industry leader in testing and warranties of LEDs, so we were confident that we could rely on the company to provide superior luminaires to meet our goals in lighting and energy savings," said Steve Casebere of Bryan Municipal Utilities. “The transition to LED street lights comes from a long history of lighting Bryan's streets with the best fixtures of the time.”

The Bryan project is being funded in part by a $540,000 matching grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The mix of cobrahead and post-top fixtures provides improved roadway lighting while delivering the city’s desired aesthetic ambiance in some areas, according to Cooper.

Still the project would only make sense if it delivered the energy savings that were originally projected at 25% to 30%, but the new installation has proven to be even better. "As an electric power utility, we wanted to reduce our carbon footprint and light pollution. Cooper's LED products helped us achieve those goals as the products are Dark Sky compliant and use less energy," continued Casebere. "Ultimately, this helped us deliver on our business goal of keeping energy rates low since using less power means we purchase less power. Most importantly, we are able to keep customer rates stable."

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, BGE is using a safety issue as a reason to block a transition that Baltimore wants to make that could eventually save the city $7 million per year with LEDs. The utility claims that the retrofit would only be safe if the utility were to install circuit breakers upstream from the lights and the cost of the circuit breakers would counter any savings from the transition to LEDs.

A consultant has suggested that Baltimore could reduce energy use by 40% if it installed LEDs on its 70,000 street lights.

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