Eleven LED light fixtures were added to the downtown with the recent Hudson revitalization project. (File photo)

Salmon Arm continues LED upgrades, BC Hydro seeks rate increase for LED program

Crown corporation asking for temporary, four-year rate increase

By transitioning to LED lighting, the City of Salmon Arm expects to see long-term savings.

The city expects to save around $4,600 annually resulting from upgrades of downtown lighting fixtures to LED bulbs.

Salmon Arm staff report that savings is anticipated from the installation of 11 new LED streetlights along Hudson Avenue, resulting in the removal of six old BC Hydro lease lights, the the upgrading of 110 streetlights in the downtown core.

At its Sept. 28 meeting, city council gave staff the go-ahead to continue upgrading municipal lighting in the following locations:

• 1st Street SE sidewalk, upgrade to include installation of three city-owned ornamental lights, replacing BC Hydro lease lights for an estimated annual cost saving of $604 a year;

• 23rd Street NE sidewalk, replacement of 21 existing 45-plus year old fixtures with residential LEDs, for an estimated cost saving of $768 per year;

• 10th Street NE road upgrade, replacement of eight existing light fixtures with LEDs, for estimated annual saving of $283 per year.

In a report to council, city director of engineering and public works, Rob Niewenhuizen, explained maintenance savings are not included in the above estimates, but noted LED fixtures have a life expectancy of 80,000 to 100,000 hours, versus 20,000 for high-pressure sodium bulbs. Over the past five years, the city spent an average of $26,250 annually on streetlight contracted maintenance. Seventy to 80 per cent of that was for labour.

Read more: Open letter urges B.C. to pause work at Site C dam to review costs, geotechnical issues

Read more: City to put BC Hydro in charge of Salmon Arm vehicle charging station

“Changing old streetlights to LED technology significantly reduces operation and maintenance costs,” commented Niewenhuizen.

However, Niewenhuizen said BC Hydro is set to begin its own LED conversion program, which may result in a rate increase for customers.

Niewenhuizen explained the Crown corporation’s program would involved converting BC Hydro lease lights to LED. The program will include approximately 90,000 lights in municipalities across the province. This work is expected to begin in November 2020, and take around four years to complete.

Niewenhuizen said BC Hydro has submitted an application to the BC Utilities Commission for a temporary rate increase to cover the cost.

“The temporary increase will be in place for four years during the program roll out,” commented Niewenhuizen.

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