City of Olean Converts 1,300 Streetlights to LEDs

By David Bertola

The City of Olean has partnered with National Grid to convert 1,300 streetlights to LEDs, which will deliver long-term cost and energy savings. Compared to traditional high-pressure sodium streetlights, LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are highly energy efficient, last longer, improve visibility and have lower maintenance costs. The changeover represents the largest such LED streetlight conversion completed by National Grid in Cattaraugus County.

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 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.

National Grid’s Streetlight Conversion 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. For Olean’s conversion project, National Grid provided a $70,000 incentive.

“This is a great program offered by National Grid that all communities should take advantage of,” said Bob Ring, P.E., Director of Public Works for the City of Olean. “Lowering your street lighting bill, while receiving an incentive to do so is a no-brainer. The City of Olean converted all 1,300 streetlights in the city and received a $70,000 incentive. The program was seamless and well-informed, and our community has embraced LED lighting.”

“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.”

LEDs have no filament, produce less heat, require no warmup period to reach full brightness, and make it easier for motorists and pedestrians to recognize objects. National Grid encourages customers considering LED streetlight conversion to seek additional information from knowledgeable lighting professionals to make fully informed decisions.

Since launching its LED Streetlight Conversion 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. 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 U.S. homes.

Funding for the Olean Walkable Project’s $100,000 economic development grant was made through National Grid’s Urban Center/Commercial District Revitalization program, which is among several economic development programs the company offers. This program is designed to help metro centers across the company’s service area achieve their revitalization goals.

Since 2003, National Grid’s 18 economic development programs have provided more than $100 million in assistance, helping to create or retain more than 50,000 jobs and supporting almost $10 billion in private and public investment across upstate New York. More information about National Grid’s suite of programs is available at www.shovelready.com.

Additionally, National Grid is providing economic development support during the pandemic by streamlining its Manufacturing Productivity Program to fast-track economic development requests and offer funding to reimburse manufacturers that transitioned facilities to produce critical medical equipment and supplies to support COVID-19 response.