The LED streetlight conversion is underway!Beginning this week on the south side of Melrose, the cobrahead-style streetlights are being converted to high efficiency LEDs. The project is expected to take about six to eight weeks and will include over 3,000 city-owned streetlights throughout Melrose.
As you may remember, Melrose Energy Efficiency Manager Martha Grover conducted two public surveys in August and October requesting feedback on LED sample lights installed on Laurel Street. As a result of resident input, Melrose will be the third community in Massachusetts after Salem and Gloucester to install LED equipment that uses newer technology which decreases the glare and brightness but still provides the same lumens and light quality without significantly sacrificing energy efficiency.
In December the Board of Aldermen approved the project proposal for $1.4 million. After deducting a Green Community grant from the state for $225,000 and an incentive from National Grid of $250,000 procured by Grover, the project payback is just six years. Most LED fixtures are rated to maintain at least 70% of their light output for 100,000 hours, which is about 20 years and double the warranty period of 10 years.
In addition to the extended lifecycle and lower replacement costs, LEDs result in reduced light pollution at night and improved and more uniform light quality. Because they use 65% less energy, LEDs help to reduce carbon emissions. LEDs also make colors look brighter and more “true” to natural color. Trees look green instead of brown, a blue car looks blue instead of grey. Due to the improved color rendition things appear brighter and sharper under LEDs which is why police and other safety personnel prefer them.
The contractor, Siemens, was selected by Melrose along with eight other municipalities who are among the first in National Grid territory to convert streetlights to LED. The group procurement was facilitated by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) which resulted in savings for Melrose by combining the buying power of multiple cities.
Siemens conducted a thorough audit of all existing streetlights and wattages last March. Using audit information and street classifications, Siemens worked with city engineers to propose replacement wattages to determine appropriate light levels for each street. The criteria they used are in accordance with guidelines used by the Federal Highway Administration, MassDOT, and the Illuminating Engineering Society. However, as the scope of this project does not include moving light poles, the City was limited to using existing pole locations throughout the City.