Troy Rhoades of Ohio Edison.

Troy Rhoades of Ohio Edison.

Soon after Brookfield Trustee Mark Ferrara took office in January 2022, he started studying the township’s street lighting program.

Residents had approached him about adding street lights to their dark streets, or upgrading the current street lights to brighter LEDs, Ferrara said. Folks had expected that they could save money putting in LEDs.

“Unfortunately, it’s not what we would hope it to be,” Ferrara said.

Troy Rhoades, regional external affairs manager for Ohio Edison, told the trustees April 1 that township residents – who pay for street lights through tax assessments – would not save money by switching to LEDs. In fact, they would pay more, he said.

Brookfield residents pay a special rate under the Efficiency Safety Incentive Program, which was put in place in 2008. This rate was developed for Ohio Edison communities to reduce rates so communities can use the money they save for other purposes, Rhoades said. By switching a street light to LED, that light would go off the special rate, Rhoades said.

And, he said, rates for LEDs are actually more than rates for the halide or high-pressure sodium lights in use now, thanks to supply-and-demand issues. It costs $210 each to replace an existing street light with an LED, or nearly $90,000 to replace all 428 lights in Brookfield, he said.

Brookfield residents currently pay about $3,700 a month in electricity for street lights, and LEDs would increase that cost by about $550, Rhoades said.

Some communities don’t mind paying the higher cost because they want LEDs, Rhoades said.

“It’s a different light,” he said of an LED. “It’s a more imposing light that, if it’s in front of your house, you’re maybe not too thrilled.”

The good news is a community does not have to replace all of its lights at once, Rhoades said. It can upgrade in a business district to draw more attention there, or do an area as a demonstration to show other residents what LEDs are like.

Ohio Edison will finance the replacement so the cost can be paid back over time, he said.

Communities also have the option of waiting for the existing lights to fail, and have them replaced by LEDs at that time. 

Rhoades said major bulb manufacturers no longer make halide or sodium bulbs. Ohio Edison recently bought the inventory from a bulk manufacturer that phased them out.

“When those run out, we’re out,” Rhoades said. “We’re gonna have to make a decision right then. My suspicion is that within the next year and a half we’re gonna be filing a rate case down in Columbus to transition” to LEDs.

“At some point in time, the utility – all utilities – are going to have to come up with some kind of LED rate,” Rhoades said. “I can’t guarantee you that it’s gonna be cheaper than what it is today. Patience may be a virtue in this situation.”

Trustees Shannon Devitz and Dan Suttles said they don’t want to pass on additional cost to taxpayers, and Ferrara noted they have discussed using American Rescue Plan Act funds for replacements. However, the trustees have to allocate ARPA funds by the end of the year, and still have projects ahead of street lights to complete.

“We have not given up,” Ferrara said of improving street lighting.

@ @ @
Please help support NEWS On the Green’s work:
Click here: