WELLAND, Ontario—Just off Highway 406, not far from the Canadian Tire store, there’s a little bit of Ellwood City in Ontario’s Niagara Region — four light-emitting diode streetlights manufactured at Wayne Township-based Appalachian Lighting Systems.
The city of Welland, population approximately 54,000, has been testing the lights, similar to ones already being installed throughout Ellwood City.
Welland Manager Craig Stirtzinger said the city is attempting to foster environmentally responsible technology through green energy sources and conservation as a way to bounce back from the erosion of its industrial base in the 1970s and ‘80s.
“We’ve actually modeled ourselves after how Pittsburgh came out of the steel industry collapse,” he said.
City officials see green technology as one way upward. Welland already gets most of its electricity through a municipally owned hydroelectric company and Stirtzinger said plans are in the works for a large solar panel array.
Welland’s history and future are connected to its namesake canal, which runs between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and carries Great Lakes freighters past nearby Niagara Falls.
The city will play host to open-water swimming and flat-water canoeing events as part of the 2015 Pan-American Games, an Olympic-style competition for nations in North, Central and South America to be held in Toronto that year.
Stirtzinger sees the potential for Appalachian Lighting Systems LED devices to be a part of Welland’s plan to build around green business.
“They’re a fantastic company,” he said of Appalachian Lighting Systems. “People are finding out that here are opportunities in the green economy.”
And Ellwood City has been part of that process. Last August, Ellwood City borough manager Dom Viccari said officials from Welland visited Ellwood City to look at the local LED streetlight project and set up the test devices shortly thereafter.
Robert McAnally, Appalachian Lighting Systems chief operating officer, said he endorses Welland’s efforts to build green business.
“That’s what we’re all about,” he said.
At a symposium last year, Appalachian Lighting Systems officials highlighted a new program to sell LED streetlights to municipalities that would then finance the purchase through savings from decreased electrical costs.
Ellwood City’s LED streetlights have decreased electricity usage by approximately 80 percent.
Appalachian Lighting Systems’ LED replacements of conventional lighting systems at Allegheny County Jail, Pittsburgh International Airport and the Philadelphia Flyers’ practice arena have yielded similar results.
But financing a replacement of Welland’s 7,000 streetlights — as compared with Ellwood City’s 795 lights — entirely with savings poses a bigger challenge.
“We have some of the lowest (electricity) rates in the Niagara region, if not Ontario,” Stirtzinger said. “If they can make it work here, they can make it work anywhere.”