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Smithtown eyes energy-efficient streetlights

In one of the largest projects of its kind on Long Island, Smithtown is replacing more than 10 percent of its streetlights with more cost- and energy-efficient luminaries.

The new lights, paid for with federal stimulus money through a grant of more than $1 million, will convert about 1,500 of the town's 11,600 streetlights to light-emitting diodes, said Traffic Safety Director Mitchell Crowley, who is overseeing the project. The town has installed about 200 light fixtures so far. The switch is expected to save about $225,000 a year, or $2.2 million over the fixtures' 10-year life.

The LED streetlights last about 105,000 hours, while commonly used high-pressure sodium lights generally are replaced about every 20,000 hours, said Michael Winegard of Beta LED of Racine, Wis., who sold Smithtown the fixtures.

The Long Island Power Authority said LED streetlights can use 50 to 70 percent less energy and last three to five times longer than high-pressure sodium lamps.

Among large cities, Boston and Los Angeles have installed LED lights and other communities have plans to make the change, Winegard said.

Other Long Island towns are undertaking their own street lamp changes or making plans to use more energy-efficient lighting. Some towns are converting to induction lights, which are similar to fluorescent lights and also cost less to use than traditional lighting.

Smithtown's grant is part of the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which funds environmental initiatives. Since early 2009, Smithtown has spent $500,000 of town money to replace some fixtures.

LED lights allow for more color awareness than regular high-sodium lights, according to Beta LED, making the lights popular among dark sky advocates who say they reduce glare and allow for better night vision.

Smithtown's switch is part of its ongoing environmentally friendly initiatives, including the purchase of compressed natural gas-powered trucks and installation of solar panels on municipal buildings. "This was an excellent way to use the stimulus money as dictated by the federal government," Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said.

According to Crowley, many of the main roads in town have already been changed over, including Route 25A in Kings Park's downtown and from the Town of Brookhaven border through St. James, and Jericho Turnpike from The Bull wedge to Old Willets Path.

LI towns going LED

BABYLON

Testing LED street lighting.

BROOKHAVEN

Testing five LED lights on Main Street in Center Moriches and studying whether to use induction, LED or high-pressure sodium lights with electronic ballast.

EAST HAMPTON

Did not return calls seeking information.

ISLIP

After yearlong study, has installed 1,200 induction streetlights, saving 80 percent of the energy cost for those fixtures, and plans to replace all 28,000 lights through federal funds and grants.

HEMPSTEAD

Planning on converting 40 streetlights on Peninsula Boulevard to LED, utilizing the federal stimulus.

HUNTINGTON

Replacing 4,000 streetlights with induction fixtures, paid for with a $803,200 federal grant and $555,667 state grant, and plans to replace all 18,700 fixtures in the future.

NORTH HEMPSTEAD

Plans to install LED streetlights in the future, with the aid of a grant, and has begun testing in a few areas.

OYSTER BAY

In a pilot program to test both LED and induction lights.

RIVERHEAD

Looking into induction lighting and LED lighting and in the past two years has changed traffic signals to LED.

SMITHTOWN

Replacing 1,500 - 10 percent - of its streetlights with LED fixtures from a $1,000,063 federal grant and plans to continue replacing fixtures with LED or other energy-saving lights.

SOUTHAMPTON

Changed about 90 percent of the town's 2,800 lights from incandescent to low sodium lights.

SOUTHOLD

Replacing lamps with more efficient lights, but not LED or induction.

SHELTER ISLAND

With only about two dozen street lamps, has no plans to change them to another light technology.

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