Street lights

New LED street lights have been placed on 1,300 poles in Olean thanks to an effort between the city and National Grid.

OLEAN — Olean’s street lamps have gone green.

Well, white. But they should cost taxpayers less money to run.

National Grid officials reported Monday that the conversion of 1,300 city street lights to LED fixtures is complete after more than a year of work.

“The program was seamless and well informed, and our community has embraced LED lighting,” said Bob Ring, director of the city’s Department of Public Works.

In April 2019, the Common Council gave Mayor Bill Aiello the go-ahead to write a letter of intent to the company for the complete conversion. While a partial conversion was possible, aldermen urged the city to go for a full conversion to maximize the savings.

“Visually, LEDs produce a distinctly whiter, brighter light compared to the yellow hue cast by traditional high-pressure sodium lights,” said National Grid Regional Director Ken Kujawa. “When working with us, municipalities often consider this difference when specifying which lights are to be converted, particularly in situations where LED and high-pressure sodium streetlights may be on the same street or in close proximity.”

Not only do the lights use about 30% less energy, officials said, but incentives were also put in place by the state to encourage the transition.

Olean’s streetlights were retrofitted as part of National Grid’s Streetlight Conversion Program, which enables communities to switch from high-pressure sodium lights. The state-funded program provides incentives to utilities and municipalities to make the switch to lower-consumption lighting.

For Olean’s conversion project, National Grid provided a $70,000 incentive. The city contributed about $40,000 to the project, with a net benefit of $30,000.

“This is a great program offered by National Grid that all communities should take advantage of,” said DPW Director Bob Ring. “Lowering your street lighting bill, while receiving an incentive to do so is a no-brainer.”

The conversion was part of the city’s Walkable Olean project, which focuses on pedestrian safety improvements, streamlining traffic patterns and resurfacing busy streets. In 2019, National Grid supported Walkable Olean through a $100,000 economic development grant, which was used to offset costs related to safety, traffic and resurfacing enhancements along Olean’s main commercial corridor.

The program is open to all of its upstate New York municipal and governmental streetlight customers with roadway-style fixtures, and promotes the adoption of energy-efficient LED technology through the transition of company-owned streetlights.

Since launching its program in 2018, National Grid has converted nearly 40,000 streetlight fixtures to cleaner, greener LEDs, and awarded $2.3 million in incentives to municipalities that made the change, company officials said. All total, the new LED fixtures saved upstate New York municipalities 18,210 megawatt-hours, or the equivalent of average energy consumed annually by 1,660 homes.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)