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    Lighting the Way to Energy Savings

    By Theresa Katalinas

    It takes green to save green.

    That's the logic of the Falls supervisors as the board considers spending about $30,000 to replace traditional incandescent streetlights with more energy efficient LED lights on five streets.

    Township Manager Peter Gray said the township is taking bids for the purchase and installation of 22 lights. Bids will be received through Jan. 9, and the project could be awarded during the Jan. 15 supervisors meeting.

    "The township can monitor the costs for the particular street. If it's successful, we can continue with this program," Gray said. "It should save us energy costs."

    Supervisor James Prokopiak said Falls began considering LEDs in 2002 and a few years ago started a phased replacement of township-owned traffic lights with LEDs. At that time, Prokopiak said the lighting technology wasn't "commercially available" for streetlights.

    "It's uncharted territory," Prokopiak said. "But it's something of great potential for the taxpayer."

    If it proves successful, Prokopiak said Falls will gradually switch the 2,600 traditional streetlights to LEDs.

    The township spends between $250,000 and $300,000 a year on energy for streetlights, Gray said. That cost could drop substantially once the initial LED payback is realized, officials said.

    LEDs typically last 10 to 12 years, resulting in decreased maintenance expenses, according to LED City. The light source is four times more efficient than traditional bulbs and cuts energy costs by 40 percent, LED City claims on its Web site, www.ledcity.org.

    LED City is a community of government and industry parties working to evaluate, install and promote LED lighting technology across the full range of municipal infrastructure.

    In 2006, officials in Raleigh, N.C., began an LED pilot program with a parking garage. Earlier this year Ann Arbor, Mich., committed to converting its downtown street lights to LED lights, according to LED City.

    Locally, Bristol Township and Yardley have installed LED traffic lights recently, and Langhorne is considering following suit. Doylestown is planning to spend $30,500 to replace 315 traffic lights, 22 green and yellow arrow signals and 24 walking signals.

    Jason Lawson, Bristol Township Public Works superintendent, said the township began switching from traditional to LED lights within the last year or two.

    "Some of them have been done and we're still finishing up the rest," Lawson said, noting that the municipality hasn't seen a cost reduction yet. "They say you won't see a big savings for at least the fourth or fifth year."

    Prokopiak is hoping for a three-year return on the township's planned investment.

    "You make yourself back the money that you put in after about three years," Prokopiak said. "If it lasts eight to 10 years, you're talking five to seven years of profit."

    Why LED?

  • Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are solid-state lighting components. They have no moving, fragile parts and can last for decades. LEDs can be many times more energy efficient than light bulbs, depending on the application.
  • Twenty-two percent of electricity in the U.S. is used for lighting. Ninety percent of the power used for a light bulb produces heat rather than light. LEDs are more than four times more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs.
  • LEDs offer the most efficient and environmentally clean — no mercury — lighting source. They are solid-state devices rather than glass tubes with filaments, which makes LEDs far more durable and long lasting.
  • LEDs typically last 10 to 12 years, which significantly reduces maintenance costs and impact on landfills and the environment.

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