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Greater Trail AKBLG Convention - Bright idea produces green benefits

A proposed plan to cut power usage to city street lights down to 7% will be unveiled this week at the AKBLG convention in Trail

There aren’t many people who would argue with saving 93 per cent on their electricity bill.

A proposed plan to cut power usage to city street lights down to seven per cent will be unveiled this week as a summit of another sort sits when the top political minds of the Kootenay-Boundary region convene in Trail.

Under the umbrella of the Association of Kootenay-Boundary Local Governments convention that begins Thursday, the West Kootenay Climate Leadership Summit (WKCLS) will gather and mull over their latest green idea: LED street lighting.

Although the City of Castlegar came up with the LED lighting idea, and they have implemented it in one of their subdivisions, Trail councilor Gord DeRosa said the Silver City is still toying with the idea — and considering the payoff.

He said light emitting diodes are 13 times cheaper than fluorescent lighting. A lighting experiment this summer with the mural on the Cominco Arena wall could drop a $1,200 power bill in 2011 to around $84 this year.

“That’s the sort of savings you have with LED,” he said. “But it’s a matter of estimating how far technology is going to take you and where is your best bang for your buck.”

The nature of LED street lightning is still very new technology, said DeRosa.

Although Trail has a green first philosophy — one that saved 45 per cent of the heating and cooling costs at the Aquatic Centre — he felt the city would wait and see what results Castlegar uncovered.

The summit this week will go a long way towards building a case for instituting wide spread LED street lighting, and will build on what has been an ongoing roundtable discussion of what communities should do to reduce carbon emissions.

The WKCLS is group of 13 mayors, councilors and regional district directors from across the West Kootenay that have been bandying about ideas on a number of green topics.

The mandate of the summit — which is closed to the public — has been to “establish a climate action peer network, share challenges” and find ways to work together on common goals of reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and save money.

Other ideas floating around the summit include larger communities helping their smaller counterparts through group purchasing of infrastructure items.