City of Waterloo in Canada Evaluates Smart LED Streetlight Upgrade

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Authorities of City of Waterloo in Canada will upgrade its current LED streetlights to smart LED streetlights adding features of analyzing traffic conditions, detecting snowfall and connecting to gas and water utility meters, reported Waterloo Chronicle.

The streetlight upgrade will cost an addition CA $1.2 million (US $920,000) on top of the CA $3.5 million streetlight project being rolled out in the city to replace 8,000 high-pressure sodium lights with LEDs.

Earlier this week, Councilor Mark Whaley asked the council to support adding another $1.5 million to the LED streetlight project budget, so the lights could be upgraded at a later date.

The city can choose from two smart lighting options, one called narrowband technology and the other the more powerful broadband technology.

Smart lighting technology was not recommended by staff in the initial LED project in their report to council, due to extra installation costs, and extended time period required for staff to manage the system.

The council did not approve Whaley’s funding request, but have decided to investigate the potential of using smart lighting technology now and in the future, additional finances required for future installations, the merits of broadband versus narrowband technology, and to research what other municipalities were doing.

According to the article, a narrowband setup would provide the backbone for a range of smart features, including the ability to dim lights in certain areas for better energy efficiency, remote metering of gas and water, and smart roads that could monitor surface temperatures and traffic conditions. The new lights could also be used to detect area snowfall.

Broadband controls would provide similar benefits, but would be able to transmit larger data over city-based WIFI connections.

Canadian cities Barrie and London have already converted traditional streetlights to LEDs, but are not installing the smart technology, said Roslyn Lusk, Director of Transportation and Services, Waterloo. The city of Kitchener is installing smart streetlights with narrowband capabilities as part of the region’s LED lighting project.

Mayor Dave Jaworsky, though, asked for more information on the payback period of the technology and how it could be deployed in other municipalities.

Based on current smart technology operations, it would take 15 years to pay back the CA$ 1.2 million investment, said Lusk.

Lusk said based on the current uses of the smart technology, it would take up to 15 years for the $1.2 million to be paid back. She noted the warranty of the lights is only 10 years, even though the typical life expectancy ranges from 15 to 20 years.

Staff will report on June 20 their findings and recommendations.

The new LED streetlights is expected to cut the city’s energy consumption by 48%, currently the city spends about CA$ 683,000 per year to power the streetlights, and 50% on maintenance, which currently costs nearly $185,500 per year. This will bring estimated annual savings to CA $420,000 each year, and an estimated payback of about eight years.

The total streetlight upgrade of 8,300 streetlights is estimated to cost about CA $4.1 million, with the estimated savings each year ranging from CA $500,000 to CA $ 800,000.

According to Climate Action Waterloo Region’s estimates, the region’s switch to LED lights could reduce about 920 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

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