PG&E rates LED street lighting

Pacific Gas & Electric removes a major roadblock for roadway lighting in their new rate schedule, by recognizing the financial benefits of LED technology.

A significant obstacle to the adoption of LED street lighting has been overcome, and a milestone has been achieved, through the efforts of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the California-based utility.

PG&E has become the first utility to finally acknowledge and recognize the financial benefits of LED technology, in the development of their new rate schedule "Electric Schedule LS-2 - Customer-Owned Street and Highway Lighting."

The schedule can be found on the PG&E website, or the PDF can be downloaded here.

The schedule lists the rates charged by PG&E for different lamp types, and is to the sum of the facility charge and the energy charge. Monthly facility charges include the costs of owning, operating and maintaining the various lamp types and size.

Crucially, because LS-2 lists LEDs at a separate lamp type, it reflects the energy savings of LED compared to other lighting technologies.

LS-2 is applicable to services for lighting installations which illuminate streets, highways, and other outdoor ways and places where the Customer is a Governmental Agency and owns the lighting fixtures, poles and interconnecting circuits.

LS-2 was effective May 1, 2009, although it was released several weeks after this date. However, there was no mention of it at this year’s IES Street and Area Lighting Conference (SALC) held earlier this month in Philadelphia, PA, where the announcement would have surely captured the attention of all in attendance, as everyone in the industry has recognized this as a major barrier to overcome.

PG&E leadership has set an example for utilities across North America and created path for municipalities to follow and a vehicle for dialogue and discussion in dealing with their local utility when considering LED street lighting, especially when attempting to derive the associated financial benefits that demonstrate that LED makes ‘financial sense’ in order to develop a realistic payback scenario.

Just last week during IIDEX / NeoCon Canada & Light Canada, I had the pleasure to attend a Canadian tour of outdoor LED site lighting hosted by Shirley Coyle, President of RUUD Lighting Canada, when Kevin Orth from BetaLED / RUUD corporate office outside of Racine, WI, apprised me of this significant announcement and removal of a barrier for market transformation.

At the DOE R&D workshop in San Francisco earlier this year, Mary Matteson Bryan of PG&E, an advocate of SSL, had discussed the efforts of PG&E in her presentation. Between the efforts of Bryan and David Alexander also of PG&E, along with other PG&E colleagues, this ‘financial acceptance’ of the technology is a revelation for the industry and the municipal end-user. Bryan noted in here presentation that acknowledging LED for its financial benefits was extremely important and that work was underway and nearing completion to rationalize this in the rate schedule, recognizing these benefits in the rates. During the R&D workshop, attendees had the opportunity to tour sites, where LED was been piloted and tested, including the use of adaptive and intelligent technology from Echelon.

As more LED is seeing its way to the streets of North America, it is hoped that more utilities see the ‘light’ on the financial benefits in promoting energy conservation and efficiency and follow the lead set by PG&E, a true LEaDer!

LEDs MAGAZINE will be bringing you further information on the PG&E story, including interviews with PG&E, the DOE, municipalities and manufacturers to provide a comprehensive understanding of the development of the new rate schedule and to highlight the perspectives of those affected by this landmark release. LEDs MAGAZINE will bring you a recap of both the IES SALC and Light Canada.

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