By ASHLEY HELMS
Although Eastchester is planning a pilot program for LED lights starting this fall, Tuckahoe was somewhat ahead of the curve when they implemented the lights about a year ago after the village received a credit when it was discovered Tuckahoe was overcharged for power.
An auditor discovered that the New York Power Authority, a state public power organization, had been overcharging the village for its power to the tune of roughly $100,000 total. Tuckahoe used the credit it received from the company and put it towards installing the more energy-efficient LED lights. The village’s energy use was never reassessed after Tuckahoe switched some of its streetlights to LED.
Several years ago, Tuckahoe began to install LED lights when older bulbs burned out and maintained a database with Con Edison to adjust its energy rates. When village officials realized that they may be overcharged, they hired an auditor from Computel, a New York-based utility billing analysis consulting firm, according to Department of Public Works Director Frank DiMarco. Though the auditing company took about a third of the eventual credit from the New York Power Authority, the village still saw substantial savings.
“The auditor fine-tuned our inventory and gave us a credit,” DiMarco said. “We used that credit to purchase the LED lights.”
Tuckahoe Village Mayor Steve Ecklond, a Republican, said the utility company was charging the village for 300 watt lamps when some of them were 200 watt lamps because some of the street light fixtures were switched to LED, which use less energy than conventional lightbulbs. Then, the money the village received from the auditor was put aside for DiMarco to use.
“We found an audit company who went around and did inventory of what was the wattage on existing lights,” Ecklond said. “We earmarked [the credit] for Frank’s budget.”
Tuckahoe Trustee Janette Hayes, a Republican, who spearheaded the legislation, said that savings down the line from switching to LED bulbs should be significant; as much as a 30 percent savings on monthly utility bills for the village. Hayes worked directly with the auditing company in order to gain the credit on the village’s behalf.
“A positive is that when we installed them, the money wasn’t coming out of the general budget,” Hayes said. “It’s another way that we show that we’re continuing to be environmentally conscious.”
In Eastchester, a pilot test of about 100 LED street lights is expected to begin this fall to see if the town could eventually completely switch over from conventional bulbs. As a precursor to the pilot program, a few lights have already been installed and are expected to last for about 10 years and emit more light than traditional lightbulbs.
According to DiMarco, about 70 percent of Tuckahoe, which is only about one square mile, is already lit by the energy-savvy LED bulbs. The DPW will install more LEDs in the fall. The new bulbs give off a subtle, blue light as opposed to the amber tint that regular bulbs emit. LEDs cost more up front than conventional bulbs, but, in the long run, municipalities actually save more money because they don’t have to be changed as often.
Bronxville has already implemented the use of LED lights in certain locations within the business district, according to Village Administrator Harold Porr III. He added that the village plans to expand the use of LED’s as a cost savings effort.
“We have switched some of them along Pondfield Road,” Porr said. “We plan to expand, village-wide eventually, if the savings is there… and it seems like it is.”
-With reporting by DANIEL OFFNER