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Brighter lights and savings in four communities

Streetlight makeovers in four Nunavut communities, which began in 2016, are almost complete.

"We're moving to light emitting diodes – LED lights – in various communities, and there's a couple of high-level reasons," said Qulliq Energy Corp. (QEC) president Bruno Pereira.

A Qulliq Energy Corp. contractor changes out city lights in Iqaluit, as the corporation turn to energy- and cost-saving LED lights in four Nunavut communities thanks to the Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity program.
Casey Lessard/NNSL photo

"One is they're more energy efficient, about 30 per cent less energy is consumed. The second part is they last significantly longer, four or five times longer. So that means our crews don't physically have to go out and change out the lights as often."

The new lights come thanks to a federal grant of $930,000 through the Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity program.

QEC, which does the work on behalf of the communities, plans on completing the work in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk by the end of the year.

"It's a win-win situation for everybody," said Pereira.

In Rankin Inlet, the work has been a bit slower as the equipment came via sealift later than expected, explained QEC's manager of corporate communications Sheila Papa.

"I had to think about it for a minute. I had to talk to some of the girls. We have LED in some parts of town. The new subdivision does, and some parts of area 6," said senior administrative officer Justin Merritt.

Merritt spoke with people who live in Area 6 and they report the lights are brighter.

"For kids playing street hockey, they're much brighter. The other ones were a more yellowish type of light," said Merritt.

"I drove around Area 5 on my way home from work yesterday just to have a look and sure enough, they are quite a bit brighter. Instead of one light, there's eight of these tiny things on them."

Pereira explains LED lights have evolved to emit a different, more intense light.

"In some areas our customers have reported that they appreciate the fact that it's a brighter area around the actual light. In other areas we've had to tone it down because there was a building nearby," he said.

Papa adds the first lights went up around Ring Road in Iqaluit.

"When we installed the LED lights around the boarding home, people complained. There's was a crosswalk there, and a perfect place to install a brighter light. But for people (sleeping) at the boarding home, we had to tone it down," she said.

City of Iqaluit communications manager Andrea Spitzer said operation costs are lower.

The city spent $278,000 in 2013 to power the streetlights, but in 2016 the cost had already gone done to $250,000 despite a greater number of lights. Audited statements for 2017 are not yet available.

"QEC is expected to complete the installation of the LED lights by the end of this year. Greater reduction of expenses is forecast for the end of 2018," said Spitzer.

Spitzer also said better lighting would improve visibility, which would assist with safety.

Pereira says the four communities are a start and, as more funds become available, lights in other communities will be changed over.