Abbotsford LED streetlight exchange cheaper than expected, will pay for itself within five years

Replacing old lights with new fixtures will cost $725,000 less than anticipated

Converting Abbotsford’s streetlights to fixtures with LED bulbs has been significantly cheaper than expected, with the city now expecting to recoup the cost of the overhaul in less than five years.

This year, the city began a four-year project to replace 5,600 fixtures around Abbotsford. Doing so was expected to cost $1 million a year, but actual costs have been 25 per cent less than expected.

“We are finding that the conversion costs are lower than originally anticipated,” Rob Isaac, the city’s general manager of engineering and regional utilities, told council.

At $750,000 per remaining phase, a staff report says the project is now expected to cost about $3.25 million. (Staff did not explain why that budget calculation was not $3 million: 25 per cent less than the original $4 million)

The LED lights are twice as energy efficient as the old bulbs, and will reduce maintenance costs by 76 per cent. The new fixtures also generally produce less light production, officials say.

There have, however, been a handful of complaints. Most of those have come from McKee Road area, council was told.

“With some of the lights on McKee Road, because of the elevation some of those mitigation measures haven’t been as successful as if it were flatter ground,” Isaac said.

RELATED: When will your Abbotsford neighbourhood get new LED streetlights?

City workers have tried to address those issues by implementing shields to reduce glare for drivers and the effect on houses below. Nine complaints have been received by the city, staff told council.

This year’s street-light replacement program has focused on switching out fixtures along city arteries.

Subsequent years will see changes to light fixtures in residential neighbourhoods. Those lights won’t be as bright as those along main roads, staff say.

There was some bad news, however. The city’s grant application to senior levels of government was denied, with Abbotsford told that other competing applications delivered more energy savings.

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