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LED street lights likely for Baldwin

| Thursday, July 10, 2014, 1:54 p.m.

Ten new crisp white, cost-saving, energy-efficient streetlights could soon line a street in Baldwin Borough, nearly two years after the town eliminated 30 percent of its streetlights in a cost-saving measure.

Applications from municipalities in Duquesne Light's service area seeking to participate in a pilot program to switch a minimum of 10 consecutive high pressure sodium streetlights to LED lamps are due by July 22, spokesperson Brian Knavish said. The deadline, originally July 15, was extended so more towns may participate, he said.

The maximum number of streetlights that will be switched to LED each year is 1,500. The company's service area includes most of Allegheny and Beaver counties.

At this point, “it's very likely” that the majority of applicants will be accepted into the program, Knavish said.

Baldwin leaders have pushed for Duquesne Light to provide LED streetlights as an option for several years, saying the lights provide a cleaner look and hopefully a cost savings to the borough, Manager John Barrett told council members Tuesday.

“It's a great next step,” Barrett said.

Brentwood leaders in May agreed to participate in the pilot program.

Baldwin removed nearly 30 percent of the borough's streetlights in 2012 in an effort to reduce costs. The borough was spending as much as $250,000 a year to keep the town's 1,350 streetlights lit.

The removal of the lights cost the borough about $57,000. Yet, Barrett estimated the borough saves about $66,000 a year from eliminating more than 360 streetlights.

The switch to the energy efficient lights likely would save municipalities that are on Duquesne Light's default service about $2 per light per month on a 43-watt LED lamp and $1.50 per light per month on a 106-watt streetlight, Knavish said.

The main goal with switching to LED lights is to cut back on energy usage, he said.

Duquesne Light has evaluated ways to implement LED lights into its system for several years, Knavish said.

“We heard the requests for years,” Knavish said.

It wasn't possible from an engineering or cost standard to bring LED lights to the streets until now, he said.

A tariff was filed with the state's Public Utility Commission in January, approved in April and went into effect on May 1 to allow for the use of the LED lights, Knavish said.

Baldwin leaders all along have said they wanted to try LED lights in the borough.

“We have gone through the process not only of doing an inventory, but also of eliminating what we thought was an excessive amount of (streetlights) ... Hopefully that is a compelling story,” Barrett said. Barrett said leaders had received concerns that the removal of the lights could have caused public safety issues, which turned out to be unfounded.

Barrett recommended an area off of Route 51, likely on Irwin, Scenery or Springdale drives to test the LED lights.

Councilman Kevin Fischer said he would like input from the Baldwin police department, which did the initial study to determine which streetlights were safe to remove.

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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