Orillia should watch LED experiment

ORILLIA, ONTARIO - There's an experiment going on in Welland right now to which Orillia should pay close attention.

When the streetlights on Fitch Street in that smallish city come on, they'll use much less electricity than any given stretch of streetlights in Orillia.

Since October, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been casting their glow on Fitch Street.

It's a pilot project which is getting good reviews so far.

The city and Welland Hydro like what they've seen, and the effort has gained the approval of Peter Love, Ontario's chief conservation officer.

In a visit to Welland earlier this week, Love said Fitch Street is the first in Canada, perhaps even the world, to be lit with with LEDs.

"You've made a great step forward," Love said during his stop.

LEDs use less than half the electricity of a standard streetlight, and last about three times as long.

Welland city officials estimate converting the entire city to LED streetlights could save nearly half of the city's annual $350,000 hydro bill for streetlights, and there will be additional savings because the city won't have to replace the bulbs as often. That should strike a chord in Orillia, where the 2007 budget for street lighting is $381,500.

Installing the lights on Fitch cost $41,000.

Welland has also converted its stoplights to LEDs.

Orillia Power Corp. has shown some leadership when it comes to conservation, using LED lights on the giant Christmas tree in front of the Opera House in downtown Orillia, for instance. It is also a leader in creating green energy provincially.

If the lights work in Welland, there is no need for every other municipality to repeat the same test - LEDs should work in any urban setting.

The upfront costs can be tempered by grandfathering the installation of LEDs. With each road reconstruction, make sure the new light standards are LEDs.

As lights need to be replaced, do it with LEDs.

We're living in a new world that requires new ways of thinking and acting - not unlike the new world that Orillia's founders lived in when they harnessed local waterways to create their own electricity.


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