There was a light hearted atmosphere as city staff and councillors gathered at the corner Frazer and Hooker Streets Tuesday afternoon.d511db5f47fbbb3c683052199fe1

City representatives, line contractors from Trans Test and Appalachian Lighting Systems gathered at the intersection to witness the first installation in a roll out of 4,300 LED cobra-head streetlight fixtures across the city.

“For the last six years we’ve been looking at LED,” said traffic, parking and bylaw manager David Ferguson, noting the rollout of the 4,300 SL-4 fixtures represents the first of two phases that will see the city’s lighting system completely switched over to the energy saving technology. The first phase is set to wrap up in August before phase two sees the city’s pole-top lights swapped.

“The big advantage is the energy conservation,” said Ferguson, explaining the switch will result in a 70 per cent reduction in the city’s lighting bill that currently sits at about $834,000 annually. With that level of savings he said the project essentially pays for itself, especially when the $4.4 million budget for the project will be paid back entirely out of the annual savings. Ferguson pointed out the long-lasting lights also deliver a 50 per cent saving in maintenance costs.

“It’s great to see them finally going up,” he said.

While the plans for the lights have been in the works for years the move represents a North American first as Welland will be the first city to replace all its lights with LED technology featuring integrated control systems.

“It’s the most sophisticated light in the world,” said Dave McAnally, president of Appalachian Lighting, the firms supplying the lights. He noted the Welland project is perhaps the company’s most important as it showcases the integrated controls that can see lights dimmed and switched on or off via remote right down to the individual fixture.

“The city showed tremendous partnership to wait for this,” McAnally said, explaining the city held off on replacing its fixtures until the cutting-edge lights were available.

“You have complete flexibility,” he said, demonstrating how, with the proper software and security encryption individual lights can be controlled from an iPad.

He added that residents should be proud of the new system and the forward thinking it demonstrates.

“Lighting is the last bastion of truly ancient technology,” said McAnally, adding, “this is the future.”

“It makes a statement about this city being prepared to move in new directions,” said Mayor Barry Sharpe, noting the move comes as a part of the city’s dedication to promoting green technology and attracting green industry.