Media Borough has worked hard over the past several years to reduce electric usage, move towards clean, renewable energy and lower our electric costs. In addition to the solar arrays mounted on nine public buildings in the borough, we have annually purchased renewable energy certificates; installed low-energy lighting in the Olive Street Parking Garage; changed most light switches in Borough Hall from on-off toggles to motion-sensors; and converted to programmable thermostats.
The borough’s administrative buildings are now 100% powered by wind, purchased from Constellation Energy. Changing our electric supplier from PECO to Constellation Energy, as we did in spring of 2016, not only improved our greenhouse gas footprint, but also saved the borough about 17% on our electric bill, or nearly $90,000 per year, as the price per kilowatt hour (kWh) was significantly lower with Constellation than with PECO.
That savings allowed us to convert our cobrahead streetlights last year from a combination of high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor and metal halide lamps to all-LED lamps. Now, not only is the energy we use clean, renewable and cheaper, but also we have cut the amount of energy used by our streetlights (the biggest energy draw of all our electric accounts) by close to 60%.
Media Borough’s LEDs were carefully selected to provide a warm, low-level illumination, avoiding the shock of intense brilliant blue light that plagued early conversions to LEDs in other towns. We were able to achieve a smooth transition to the new lighting with some residents not even aware of the change.
Media obtained further savings by joining the Regional Street Light Procurement Program (RSLPP) led by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) in 2016. Over 30 municipalities in the region participated and were able to procure high quality LED lamps and expertise for a relatively low price through group purchasing of both materials and engineering. DVRPC will launch a second round of the RSLPP in 2018. Go to https://www.dvrpc.org/RSLPP/ for more information on the program.
Media Borough did not need to finance the LEDs, drawing on the savings from our prior switch to the lower-priced Constellation Energy and from our capital reserves. In the year since our conversion we have achieved the following savings for our streetlight energy use:
Energy Savings: from 325,824 kWh to 135,048 kWh — a 59% decrease in energy use
Energy Cost Savings: $12,748
Operations and Maintenance Cost Savings: Estimated at $14,500 (since LEDs last 11 years or longer they save the annual cost of labor and materials for lamp replacement. This will be an annual savings for at least that amount of time).
We also earned a one-time PECO Commercial and Industrial Solutions Rebate of $17,200 for converting to energy-saving technology.
Applying these savings and the PECO rebate to the cost of the LEDs ($185,980), the payback period would be 6.7 years. But if we add in the annual savings that the switch to Constellation Energy brought us starting in April of 2016, we have already paid off our LED streetlights.
Note: Cobrahead streetlights are found in most residential areas of the borough, parking lots, and on Baltimore Avenue and Providence Road. The decorative streetlights on State Street have not yet been converted to LED.