Groton's conversion to LED streetlights reaps big energy and cost savings

Groton — An effort to reduce the town's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 has received a boost from a decision to convert all of the town-owned streetlights to LED lights.

According to a recently released report from the town's public works department, since switching to LED streetlights from high pressure sodium streetlights in February of last year, Groton has seen a 67 percent reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions related to its streetlights.

That is the equivalent of reducing its energy usage by 27,512 kilowatt hours a month on average and its CO2 emissions by 85.8 metric tons a year. It is equivalent to taking 18 passenger cars off the road, nine houses off the grid and planting 2,224 trees, the report states.

"For us, it was a winning situation to try and do that, almost a no-brainer," said Rick Norris, the town's sustainability program project manager, of converting the town's streetlights to LEDs.

For Groton, a town that is part of Sustainable CT, the replacement of around 1,500 streetlights and its ensuing energy and cost savings was the culmination of an effort that began several years ago.

Back around 2010, the town had a greenhouse gases study conducted and shortly thereafter brought in a company that helped town officials devise an energy action plan. Around the same time, the cost of LED technology had begun to fall while the technology amassed more supporting evidence, said Norris.

Combined with research showing the cost effectiveness of making the switch and the available financial assistance, town officials jumped at the chance for conversion.

"It was time to do it because of the savings that were out there," said Norris, adding, "This was a piece of low-hanging fruit that worked out pretty well."

So, with some financial assistance from Eversource and Groton Utilities, the town replaced about 1,500 streetlights between February and March of 2017, and now is reaping some cost savings.

"When all is said and done, we're saving about $100,000 a year," Norris said, adding that converting to LEDs also reduces maintenance costs because LED lights last 20 years.

Norris also added that he thinks the conversion to LED streetlights is definitely something other towns should consider, especially if they own their streetlights outright.

"The project doesn't take that long and there's financial assistance," he said.

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