Consortium Aims To Assist Municipalities With LED Streetlight Conversion

Oct 24, 2016

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that $790,000 is available for Mid-Hudson Valley municipalities to convert to LED streetlights. The idea is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the state reach its energy goals.

Cuomo says the initiative is projected to reduce each participating municipality’s electricity costs by up to 65 percent. The Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium will administer the initiative and is the first such consortium in the state to assist municipalities with LED streetlight conversion. The consortium is led by the Kingston-based firm Courtney Strong and its partners. Pat Courtney-Strong is president of the firm.

“What we are aiming to do, what are goals are is that, one, we’re working with mayors and supervisors to analyze their technical and financial options so that they really understand what the opportunity is with regard to streetlight conversion,” Courtney-Strong-says. “Secondly, we’re helping them get ready to ask the right questions when discussing streetlight acquisition with their utility company. Thirdly, we’re helping municipalities prepare requests for proposals from lighting vendors and maintenance vendors so that they can get the best deals. And then fourthly, we’re helping them get ready to come together as interested communities to pursue a municipal aggregated purchase of streetlights so that even small communities can afford to make the transition.”

Municipalities may join the consortium at no cost. The funding, which is for the consortium to offer assistance, is through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA. Bradford Tito is program manager for communities and local government for NYSERDA.

“People maybe don’t realize that streetlight electricity can cost municipalities millions of dollars. That’s taxpayer money,” Tito says “By switching to LED streetlights, communities can save a lot for their municipal budget and it really helps to further Governor Cuomo’s REV initiative to make a more affordable, clean energy supply for all New Yorkers.”

That REV initiative is Reforming the Energy Vision, Cuomo's strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. Many Mid-Hudson municipalities may want to convert to LED streetlights but encounter hurdles understanding their options. This is where the Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium can help. Again, Courtney-Strong.

“Hudson Valley municipalities can simply reach out to us,” says Courtney-Strong, “We’re conducting webinars and workshops on an ongoing basis, and we’re learning everybody’s particular situation in their city and were figuring out how we can help.”

Assistance in understanding LED conversion options is available to all the cities, towns and villages in Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Columbia, Greene and Westchester counties, regardless of whether the municipality or the utility owns the lights. John Maserjian is spokesman for Poughkeepsie-based Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation.

“The conversion to LED streetlights is actually one that Central has already begun doing,” Maserjian says. “This announcement by the governor’s office will help, we think, speed the conversions from the traditional street lighting that most of us see today to the higher efficiency   LED lights. And, for us, this is good news.”

He says an LED streetlight will last about five years and require less maintenance than a conventional streetlight, which lasts about 1 ½ years. Central Hudson, which serves 80 municipalities, has been offering LED streetlights since August 2015.  NYSERDA's support for the project is from the governor’s Cleaner, Greener Communities initiative, which encourages communities to incorporate sustainability goals and principles into local decision-making and then form partnerships to work on economic development projects. Again, Tito.

“So if a community is interested in converting to LED streetlights, NYSERDA has a program — Clean Energy Communities — where LED streetlight conversion is one of our high-impact actions, and we’ll actually provide up to 50 hours of direct technical assistance to local governments to help implement an LED streetlight project.”

And that program is in tandem with the consortium’s effort. A 2014 NYSERDA study found that if streetlights statewide were changed to LEDs, an estimated $97 million and 524 gigawatt hours of electricity would be saved annually, the equivalent of powering 74,000 homes.