The decision to build the bypass road from Second Street East to Marleau will be welcomed by most commuters. It will take a lot of the traffic heading to the industrial complexes in the north east of the city, relieving the delays on McConnell, and reducing the traffic through residential streets such as Lynwood and Glengarry.
From an energy saving point of view, this is a win-win situation. Quite simply, a faster drive with fewer stops for traffic lights and other delays means less gas is burned, reducing our costs and the amount of CO2 and other pollutants. The new road will also have sidewalks and a bike path. But is the city going far enough to reduce energy usage?
The new road will have street lights, like any other road in Cornwall, or indeed anywhere. Who can argue the wisdom of having good street lighting. It increases safety and reduces crime. But at what cost?
Cornwall, like almost all municipalities in Ontario, uses orange High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs to light the streets. Until recently, this has been the most cost effective system, providing a relatively high level of usable light for the amount of power consumed. It’s not perfect, as the orange tint to the light does not render other colours especially well, but after all, we’re not trying to illuminate the National Gallery.
However, safe, bright street lights do not have to be HPS systems. Recently, several towns in Nova Scotia completely eliminated HPS bulbs, and are using LED lighting instead.
LED lights use about 37% of the electricity HPS lights use for a similar light output. Put another way, we could have 3 LED lights for every HPS light without significantly raising our power consumption. Granted, LED lights are relatively expensive compared to HPS, but as more and more municipalities start to use them, these costs will come down due to economies of scale. Another bonus is that LED lights have a 20 year life span, compared to 3 years for HPS.
So why not install LED lights on the new bypass? Assuming a light every 25 metres, there would be 48 lights from end to end. Over 20 years, this would save us about 250,000 kWh of power. The savings on the city’s electric bill would be about $27,000 (assuming the city pays $0.08/kWh), and the savings in maintenance costs would be over $60,000. And this is for only 48 lights along a 1.2 kilometre road. How many HPS lights does the city have? If all the current HPS lights are phased out over the next three years, we could save millions of dollars and reduce our CO2 emissions by thousands of tons.
There’s another benefit, too, for our children and grand-children, who will have to live in this world long after we’re gone. Over the next twenty years, these 48 LED lights are going to pump about 100 tons less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than their HPS counterparts. Not a great saving when you consider the global problem, but we have to start somewhere. And just think: if we put a small windmill on top of each light, we could reduce our costs and CO2 pollution even more!
This Saturday, October 24, local Cornwall Citizens will be meeting to take action on climate change. Let’s be there to support them, before it really is too late. Check the CornwallFreeNews article at http://cornwallfreenews.com/2009/10/350-org-local-group-takes-action-cornwall-ontario/
If you want to learn more about LED Street Lighting, here are a couple of links:
To contact the Mayor or City Council click the names below.
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