Outdoor Lighting: New Yorks sets LED rates, Fargo gets post-top LEDs

Nov. 23, 2010
Central Hudson Gas & Electric in the state of New York adds an LED-street-light tariff to its service classifications while Fargo, ND completes downtown, post-top-LED retrofits.

The New York State Public Service Commission has approved a new lower-priced tariff option for Central Hudson Gas & Electric that will encourage municipalities to install LED-based street lights. In Fargo, North Dakota, Millerbernd Lighting retrofitted the city’s acorn-style metal-halide lights along downtown walkways with solid-state-lighting (SSL) post-top luminaires maintaining a traditional look while reducing energy usage.

Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo turned to SSL to replace legacy lights with a US-manufactured product that could deliver 40-60% energy savings and reduce maintenance costs. Millerbernd partnered with Minneapolis-based-manufacturer Lumagine to deliver a custom replacement for the light sources within the acorn-style luminaires. The new SSL light engines utilize Philips Lumileds Luxeon Rebel LEDs.

It was critical that the luminaire used in the Fargo retrofit maintain the traditional aesthetics. Dave Helland, street lighting coordinator for city of Fargo, said, “By retrofitting our existing acorn fixtures we have been able to maintain existing look and feel of our downtown walkways, while at the same time not being able to tell the difference between the LED retrofit and our existing metal halide lamp source.”

Fargo, North Dakota

In the custom light-engine design, Millerbernd was able to “place the emitters to mimic the existing lamp arc position” of the legacy sources according to national sales director Mitch Gaida. Gaida said, “We successfully addressed the challenge of mimicking the performance and appearance of the existing light source, maintaining the unique design of the original fixtures in this landmark area and saving the city of Fargo thousands of dollars in replacement costs.”

The city was also looking for a retrofit solution that was easy to install. Millerbernd’s design replaces the existing ballast with an LED driver and the new SSL source screws into the existing mogul base socket. The city’s Helland said, “With a completely tool-less retrofit installation and the mogul base adapter, the process was not much more than replacing a lamp and the total time took less than five minutes per fixture.”

Central Hudson LED tariffs

In most cases, a key to the affordability of LED street lights is an electrical rate structure that recognizes the energy-saving attributes of SSL. Most street lights are not metered for actual power usage. Instead, utilities charge municipalities or other light owners a flat rate per light based on the calculated power consumption. A lower tariff for LED lights is the only way a municipality can accrue savings in energy costs that can payback the higher upfront cost that’s today associated with SSL.

Back in August, Central Hudson filed tariff revisions to add an LED rate option. The utility applied for the revision to support several municipalities that wanted to take advantage of American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulus funds to install LED street lights.

The New York State Public Service Commission just approved the new pricing option. “A major operating cost municipalities face is the cost of operating and maintaining street lights,” said Commission Chairman Garry Brown. “The key advantages of state-of-the-art LED street lights over traditional street lights are lower energy costs, improved night visibility, significantly longer life spans, reduced maintenance costs, and a much lower environmental impact. Installing more energy efficiency lighting devices is clearly the wave of the future.”

The new tariff will allow the utility to correctly calculate the energy used by LED street lights and therefore a municipality to pay a lower price for energy used for lighting.