WELLAND – The Rose City’s new LED streetlights are in the spotlight.

The city’s manager of parking and traffic, David Ferguson, led representatives from Port Colborne, Fort Erie, and St. Catharines on an evening tour of the city earlier this week to see the new streetlights shining above Welland’s roadways.

The city plans to replace 4,300 70- and 100-watt high-pressure sodium streetlights with new LED light fixtures manufactured by Ellwood City, Pa.-based Appalachian Lighting Systems that use 30 watts of power to produce even more light.

Ferguson said the city will replace 2,410 decorative light fixtures with LED lights in Phase 2 of the program, likely next year.

By doing so, Ferguson said, the city expects to save about $6 million in total over the next 15 years through reduced maintenance and energy costs. Even after the cost of installing the new lights is deducted, the city will still have a net savings of $2.4 million.

Ferguson said representatives of neighbouring communities weren’t the only ones impressed Tuesday by what they saw during the tour.

“To be honest with you I was impressed, too,” Ferguson said, Thursday.

The tour started on Coventry St. where new LED lights have recently been installed.

“What a perfect display of lighting that was in terms of the light output and the area it covered,” Ferguson recalled.

From there, they visited the area of Hooker and Frazer Sts. — the first neighbourhood to have the new lights added — where Ferguson demonstrated a lighting control system that allows the city to remotely control the brightness of the lights via an Internet connection.

“I was blown away to look and realize that the light you’re looking at is running at 30 watts and they’re replacing 70- and 100-watt high-pressure sodium, and you get a better light distribution pattern,” Ferguson said. “I was really impressed with it.”

Although Welland will be the first city in North America to have completely changed its streetlights to light-emitting diodes, Ferguson said other communities are preparing to follow suit.

Mississauga, for instance, is now accepting tenders for a streetlight conversion. Other communities are involved in smaller projects that include LED streetlight installations.

“They’re keeping a close eye on what’s happening in Welland,” he said.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, city manager Craig Stirtzinger said about 20% of the lights have been installed.

“It’s certainly coming along very quickly,” he said.

Wellanders can follow installation progress at http://www.welland.ca.

So far, lights have been installed on the east side of the canal, and work is underway in the city’s south end. In the months ahead, lights are to be added to the city’s northwest, followed by the northeast and lastly the downtown area.

Ferguson said the current phase of the project remains on schedule for completion by the end of August.