Going Green on Salt Spring - Low Hanging Fruit

Projects that are very easy to do, yet provide substantial and multiple benefits, are sometimes referred to as “low hanging fruit” projects.  They are highly sought after as they are the easiest to justify and most likely to be successful. 

Calgary  just recently completed a retrofit replacement of its 37,000 residential street lights (a project similar to using compact fluorescent bulbs in your home, but on a much lager scale).  It has scored big time in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions to the tune of 16,000 tons a year, winning awards and the big bonus, lowered their annual electric bill by $1,700,000.  My quick calculation equates to an ongoing cost savings of costs of approximately $460 per bulb per year (at current consumption rates - which are likely to rise over time).  I have seen the new bulbs in operation and they are almost indistinguishable from the old bulbs.  

Calgary  was driven to the change through a variety of issues such as light pollution (due to the abundance of inexpensive energy,  Calgary  had turned into a very bright city), energy and cost savings.

I decided to take the initiative to do my own informal count on SSI.  I drove around the island and documented every light I thought was equivalent to a  Calgary  residential street light.  I did not count those on the BC Ferry dock or parking areas, or were what appeared to be private property. The results were:

Ganges : 54
Vesuvius: 11
Fulford: 8
Fernwood: 0
Other: 12
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Total: 85

Without considering the other benefits, the ongoing overall annual cost savings would be in the order of  $460.00 x 85 = $39,100.00 per year (assuming  Calgary ’s old lights are of very similar energy efficiency to our current units).  This definitely falls in the category of low hanging fruit.

Should the “powers that be” on SSI that have jurisdiction over these bulbs consider a similar upgrade ?  I would suggest it is a no-brainer as the potential payback on this project is very short (3.5 years for  Calgary ’s project) and the benefits will be achieved, forever.

More information on the Calgary Project is available on the Web by performing a Google search on “Calgary EnviroSmart Street Light Retrofit”.

The writer is a retired Project Manager from the University of Calgary and has a strong interest in personal finance.