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Baldwin Borough officials seek LED streetlights

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Baldwin Borough will be a perfect spot to test streetlights that use light-emitting diode technology when a pilot program becomes available, officials said.

“We've done so much research on this,” borough Manager John Barrett said, referring to studies, mapping and the removal of nearly 30 percent of the town's streetlights over the past year to save money. The borough hopes to swap its remaining lights for energy-efficient LED lamps.

Duquesne Light Co., meanwhile, plans to file a rate case sometime this year with state utility regulators that could set costs for running energy efficient streetlights, said Brian Knavish, a spokesman for the utility.

No details are being revealed yet on any plans to implement energy-efficiency streetlights, he said.

Local officials have pleaded with Duquesne Light for two years to install lights that use less power.

“We finally have some movement,” Kathy Risko, executive director of the Congress of Neighboring Communities, or CONNECT, told Baldwin Borough Council last week.

The organization run by the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs promotes collaboration between Pittsburgh and 36 neighboring communities. Several of the municipalities asked the electric company in a letter this year to work with the state Public Utility Commission on a rate change that could help municipalities save money through energy-efficient streetlights.

“This is a priority,” Knavish said. “It's an important issue, not just to the community, but also to Duquesne Light.”

If the PUC approves rates for power-conserving lights, Duquesne Light then could use LED technology to illuminate streets in its service area.

“That's a big step,” Knavish said.

Part of the plan is to determine how towns would be billed for installation of the new light fixtures, he said.

Risko said local leaders “had been talking to Duquesne Light and had been getting a lot of lip service from them for about two years.”

Duquesne Light has been doing behind-the-scenes planning, Knavish said.

“Sometimes things do take longer than planned,” he said. “It will be a cost savings, for sure.”

Risko said the utility can't set costs for LED lighting so high that communities couldn't afford it, and can't charge the same amounts as for standard streetlights ”because we know that it actually should cost less.”

Officials also discussed whether Duquesne Light might sell local towns the streetlights within their borders, so they could implement cost-saving measures on their own.

They said Duquesne Light could select a municipality in CONNECT's region to test LED streetlights. Barrett said he volunteered Baldwin Borough.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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