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New lights mean bright savings for Colonie

Colonie officials are seeking to cut costs and shed some low wattage, energy- efficient light on the town's increasing utility bills.

On Thursday, June 28, the board approved an agreement with National Grid to begin swapping outdated and costly light bulbs in more than 1,000 street lamps to low-cost, energy-efficient bulbs.

The new bulbs use high-pressure sodium (HPS) to produce more light and use a fraction of the electricity that the current mercury vapor (MV) bulbs use.

It's just one measure among many the town's energy conservation committee has pitched since forming last year. Its purpose was to save the town on increasing utility costs. The new bulbs could end up saving the town $80,000 per year, said Doug Sippel, director of general services for the town and energy conservation committee chairman.

One suggestion (of the committee) was that the street light cost we pay is quite expensive and was there anything we can do to reduce those costs? Sippel said.

The town leases 1,577 streetlights from National Grid, he said. Last year those more than 1,000 lights cost the town $288,796.74. By switching lights to the energy efficient bulbs, that bill could be as low as $207,719, he said.

National Grid is already in the process of swapping out the older mercury vapor lights for the new high-pressure sodium, said Sippel.

In Colonie, the utility company would be replacing three styles of lights that illuminate the town's roads, byways and residential areas. The majority of the lights, 858, are 100- watt bulbs that cast 4,200 lumens, a measure of perceived light. The new sodium vapor bulbs will require 70 watts and produce 6,200 lumens. The strongest bulbs used in the town, 400 watts, will use nearly half the wattage to produce more light.

"Despite the lower wattage, these HPS bulbs have been rated equal to, or higher than, the existing MV bulbs in terms of lumination so not only would the town of Colonie save energy and money, but the lights would be brighter," said Patrick Stella, National Grid spokesman.

National Grid would not charge the town for replacement of these lights as these MV units are being phased out of use, Stella said. It would take up to a year to complete the conversion of the lights. The proposal was sent to the town of Colonie earlier this year and up to now no official decision by the town had been made, Stella said.

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