LOWVILLE — Energy efficient “smart” lighting is making its way to 14 municipalities in Lewis and Jefferson counties. Alexa and Siri won’t be involved, but there is an app for that.
While some north country villages have already switched to LED lighting directly with National Grid, that program offers a swap-out of only the bulbs on existing fixtures, while the state municipal LED lighting program replaces aging wiring and fixtures and adds a “smart” sensor to each.
The state Smart Street Lighting NY program is organized as “a full turnkey service, including the lighting audit; engineering and design; bidding and procurement; construction management; and environmental services,” according to the program’s website.
Mickey Dietrich of the Tug Hill Commission helped bring together the group of small towns and villages belonging to the River Area Council of Governments and the Cooperative Tug HIll Council to benefit from the program, which individually would not have been possible.
With between 32 and 373 streetlights to be replaced in each municipality, together a total of 1,950 streetlights will be converted to energy-efficient and cost saving LEDs.
Mr. Dietrich said that while the straight-switch program through National Grid is cheaper up front, the cost savings are less and maintenance is more.
“Facility fees go up [with the straight bulb changes] compared to going out to bid for contractors to do maintenance. Bids come back much cheaper,” Mr. Dietrich said, “We’re not just talking about saving on electricity, but you’re also saving on maintenance.”
Savings through the direct LED bulb swap program with National Grid are estimated to be about 15 percent of normal costs, while municipal smart lighting program savings are about 70 percent, according to Mr. Dietrich.
The basic smart control sensors that only operate the lighting will be paid for through a state Consolidated Funding Application grant.
The sensors send information about that particular light to the internet cloud and through a smart phone app. Information can be sent back to the light as well.
“If one of the lights go out, the sensor will immediately alert both the municipality and the maintenance person who can then troubleshoot the problem through the cloud,” Mr. Dietrich said, “And the lights are each dimmable through the smart control.”
The lights can be put on a schedule not just of when to turn on and off, but also to be dimmed by a certain percentage at a certain time. It is also possible to have lights in a single area on a brighter or dimmer setting.
An optional, more advanced sensor would allow participating towns and villages to use “smart city” software to make a number of things possible, from water meter reading to weather sensors, parking management to traffic optimization as well as increased security measures like cameras and noise monitors, to name a few.
Mr. Dietrich said local interest in the advanced smart city controls has been mostly focused on the water meter reading capabilities, although he said Adams is considering getting the advanced sensor to use the weather monitoring capability. One municipality is also considering getting advanced sensors only for the park so security cameras could be used there.
A $20,000 grant is available for smart city capabilities for each municipality and if that municipality invests $20,000, a matching grant will provide another $20,000.
“For $20,000 of investment, they could have $60,000 worth of smart technology at their disposal,” Mr. Dietrich said.
Depending on the proximity to fiber optic internet, the smart city controls could act as repeaters, allowing a municipality to make wireless internet available for everyone. A study is almost completed about the possibility of making 5G available through the smart city controls as well.
Later this month, the statewide program involving the installation of 7,000 lights will go out for construction bids, giving an economy-of-scale discount that no one city or municipality group would have otherwise. The towns and villages will also soon be consulted about the design of their lighting programs.
Each municipality will “buy-back” its street lights from National Grid after they are constructed through long-term, zero interest bonds.
If all goes according to plan, construction is expected to begin in July, according to information provided by Project Manager Kurt Blemel, at the first meeting of the program participants on Jan. 29 held in West Carthage at the Town of Champion’s board room.
Municipalities involved include the town and village of Adams as well as Martinsburg, Castorland, Copenhagen, Croghan, Lowville, Lyons Falls, Champion, Wilna, Carthage, Deferiet, Sackets Harbor and West Carthage.