Roadway lighting report sheds the wrong light on LEDs

Aug. 28, 2008
A report on roadway lighting, issued by a municipalities group in Ontario, has been called into question due to the accuracy of its comments on LED technology, reports Brian Owen.
Recently, Local Authority Services (LAS), a solely owned corporate subsidiary of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Canada, released a report to the municipalities in Ontario regarding the retrofit of roadway lighting to new technologies, one of which was of course LED.

The report entitled Ontario’s Guiding Lights “Street Lighting” Addressing Energy Efficiency & the Environment was intended to evaluate and describe retrofit opportunities to emerging technologies, focusing on performance, energy savings and resulting environment benefit.

Crucially, the report was prepared by Power Application Group Inc. (PAGI), a firm on contract to LAS, and not by LAS itself.

Hot on the heels (maybe the "Achilles heel") of the Oakland DOE Gateway report, where it became evident that questionable data can change the perspective and resultant value of the report, the LAS report was not extremely flattering with respect to LED. Quite possibly this was due to the quality of research and the information input into the report.

The Oakland report was of very high quality and research through the efforts of Mary Matteson Bryan of PG&E, but was called into question due to the lighting maintenance costs supplied by the City of Oakland. In contrast, the LAS report pretty well starts out by putting the wrong "light" on the technology in its initial depiction of LED and the current state of the technology.

In order to gain a better understanding of the direction and process behind the report, LEDs Magazine attended the AMO Conference in Ottawa, Ontario, where LAS officials and municipal delegates were interviewed about the report.

The emphasis placed on induction lighting in the report has led to some concern, causing the research to come into question.

We have learned that LAS is also very concerned with the comments and responses received regarding the report with respect to the method and quality of research, especially regarding LED. As the result, LAS will contact PAGI and ask them to explain their position and findings, through a series of questions that Toronto’s greenTbiz will work with LAS to develop.

“LAS has been recently made aware of some concerns with the content and approach of the Ontario Guiding Lights report.” commented Nancy Plumridge, LAS president, adding, “We (LAS) will conduct as full and thorough investigation of these concerns and report back to our members (of AMO) in the very near future.”

One thing of interest in the report was that PAGI noted that unlike legacy technology such as HPS lighting, LED does not attract shadflies, an issue of concern in Northern Ontario. While the technology may not attract flies, that may not be true for the report, according to Doug Boyle, who promotes an LED retrofit lamp that can be installed directly into the cobra head after removing the ballast.

In a letter to LEDs Magazine, Boyle states, “The pictures they used to show the difference between their induction light and the LED is a laugh. They used a street with HPS lights and the 2 LEDs were in the middle. They stood under a HPS light to take the picture of the LED lights, and they stood near the induction light to take that picture, as can be seen by the pictures in their report.

"They do not state whether the spacing between the poles was the same or different. North Bay was told from the outset that the light that I supplied was designed for pole spacing of not more than 50 feet and not to be installed higher than 25 feet from the ground. I also noticed that they did not take comparison pictures of the lights in Welland; this is strange as they condemn LED without the full facts or information of all the sites that they talked about in their report.”

Boyle continued, “The consultants, PAGI, stated in their analysis, that they ordered the equipment and supplied the necessary retrofit fixtures for the tests. This is a lie. I supplied North Bay with the fixture and the light completely retrofitted and North Bay monitored all the results that they have sent me.” Boyle has asked that the report be retracted.

Even LEDs Magazine was included in the report as they reprinted our article entitled "Welland is Well Lit with LED street lighting" ( Unfortunately we had no previous knowledge, and it turns out that even the City of Welland, the subject of the article, was not interviewed, according to David Ferguson, Manager, Traffic & Parking Operations.

Shirley Coyle, LC, General Manager of Ruud Lighting Canada also had concerns. “I found the report to be seriously flawed in not including any photometric analysis of a typical area using the technologies being compared,” she said. “Ruud Lighting also objects to the use of an image of our LED luminaire (picture #4 on page 22) when none of our luminaires were part of the test sites referenced in this report.”

AMO conference

On a "brighter" note, LEDs Magazine caught up with Robert Storey, who recently joined LAS. Previously, Bob was with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), where I had the opportunity to work with him in the development of standards for LED applications. Bob also joined me for one of the first LED presentations in Canada to the building, construction and property management sectors at PM Expo in 2004. Bob will definitely be an asset to LAS, especially with respect to an understanding of LED and standards.

At the AMO conference, David Cheesewright, President and CEO of Wal-Mart Canada Corp. addressed the attendees, commenting on the many environmental initiatives being conducted by Wal-Mart, which include LED signage, LED illumination of refrigerator cases and a recent pilot of LED in parking lot lighting.

As a part of the AMO Conference, close to 150 exhibitors demonstrated and displayed their products and services to municipal delegates from across Ontario. Among those exhibiting were LED Roadway Lighting of Nova Scotia and LUMEC, a Philips Group Brand, from Quebec. LRLL displayed their new cobra head replacement that will meet the lumen performance of the current HPS technology, thus meeting the infamous IESNA RP8 requirements. LUMEC displayed their new decorative luminaires, while readying for the release of the much-awaited LEONIS LED roadway luminaire.

Even with some "bumps on the roadway" such as the questionable report described above, the municipalities in attendance were quite excited to see these new LED advancements that will further ‘light the road’ to market transformation in outdoor public space lighting.