WAYNE TWP. – In terms of creating practical uses for light-emitting diode devices, the nation’s leader, and possibly the world’s, just might be in Burnstown, tucked among the ghosts of long-dead heavy industrial factories.

“The technology we’re looking at here is the leading edge,” David Wojtalik, general manager of Future Electronics, a multinational technological company based in Montreal, said Friday.

Wojtalik was praising the developments at Appalachian Lighting Systems, based in Wayne Township, and the innovations developed by the company’s executive director, Jim Wassel of Perry Township.

Future Electronics, a subsidiary of Philips Applied Technologies, is a leading manufacturer of LED lights, so Wojtalik has seen Appalachian Lighting Systems’ competition.

And Wassel’s company is poised for financial success to match its technological acumen. Appalachian Lighting Systems is expected to sign an agreement early next week with Ellwood City to replace its standard streetlights with LED systems designed by Wassel.

The borough has received a $168,750 state grant to fund the changeover of 134 streetlights in the first stage of a program that will see all of Ellwood City’s 796 streetlights replaced with Appalachian Lighting Systems-designed devices.

Borough Manager Dom A. Viccari said more than 100 municipalities applied for grants through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, and only 24 communities received the grants.

That funding might be just the first investment in Appalachian Lighting. Among those attending a presentation by the company on Friday were Thomas Ehrensberger, a regional director for Gov. Ed Rendell’s action team, and Linda Nitch, executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp.

Subsequent stages of the light replacements will be funded by savings derived from the initial LED lights. And those cost reductions will be substantial.

The cost of operating an LED streetlamp is projected to be about 80 percent less than Ellwood City’s current lighting cost. A standard street lamp, which consumes about 400 watts of electricity, can be replaced with a 74-watt LED light.

Additionally, the new lights have a life expectancy of more than 60,000 hours, and Wassel said that is a low-end estimate. So far, Appalachian Lighting System’s first local test streetlight, at Factory Avenue and 12th Street, has been in place more than a year without any maintenance or replacements.

Appalachian Lighting, along with Imbutec, a Pittsburgh-based energy consulting firm that recommends the company’s products to consumers, is marketing its devices toward municipalities for streetlights and manufacturers for warehouse lighting.

The pending contract with Ellwood City pushes Appalachian Lighting Systems a little further along in its business plan, which calls for increasing its job force to 20 workers this year and up to 400 employees in the long term.

But in the short term, with Wassel producing not only ideas, but product, the ramifications of this deal are a bit more personal.

“It means they’re going to handcuff me right here,” he said.