Government has begun the process of swapping out the current sodium vapour streetlights with energy efficient, cost-saving LED lights, under the Public Sector Smart Energy Programme.
The move is expected to save Barbados $31 million in electricity costs, over the 15-year period of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and European Union (EU) funded project, says Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams.
He made the assertion this morning during a site visit to Silver Sands, Christ Church, where there was a demonstration of the retrofitting process on the outskirts of the Silver Sands Recreational Park.
“This is a major issue for us; the herculean task of trying to replace all of the streetlights in Barbados is a major commitment by the Government of Barbados, the Barbados Light & Power [Barbados] Company Ltd and our partner Caribbean LED Lighting… As everybody knows we are looking to move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and part of that necessitates us rethinking the way we do things,” he told those present.
The changing out process is expected to take 18 months but the Energy Minister has set an ambitious goal of completing the process within a year.
While the BL&P and the Government Electrical Engineering Department (GEED) will work on the installation of the street lights, Caribbean LED has been has awarded the contract for the supply of 3,000 streetlights for highways and 24,250 for major roadways and residential roads.
Minister Abrahams explained that Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, gave off a better quality light, were cost-effective and safer. He said the initiative was about more than replacing streetlights and tasked all Barbadians to be more efficient in their everyday lives.
“It is all well and good for the Government to keep telling people to put in energy efficient systems in [their] homes and put in water saving devices. Unless we take the step first to show that we are serious and show what can be done and show the savings that can be realized from it then there is really no incentive for people to do it.
“There are a lot of options in Barbados for energy efficient lighting. There is really no excuse to not do it now. It may cost a little more at the outset but the cost savings going forward are significant; the lights last longer and they burn less current and it is the way to go. All Barbadians have to play their part in conserving,” he emphasized.
BL&P Distribution Engineer and Project Manager for the streetlight retrofit project, Paula Palmer, said six contractors were working along with the BL&P to replace the lights. So far, they have started in Regency Park, St. James; Kingsland, Christ Church; Bridge Cot, St. George; and Ruby, St. Philip.
Additionally, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance (MTWM) has already begun replacing about 200 streetlights along the highway from the Grantley Adams International Airport in Charnocks, Christ Church, to Warrens, St. Michael.
Permanent Secretary (PS) in the MTWM, Mark Cummins, said this project was separate and distinct from the IDB and EU-funded project but shared the same concept of replacing the old streetlights with LEDs.
“As the Minister said, we expect to save up to $3.7 million annually because it costs us between $8 and $11 per lamp and this is going to bring about significant savings for us at the Ministry. We recognized that too many lights on the highway were out and so we took that upon ourselves as a ministry to ensure that the lights on the highway are repaired,” he explained, adding that the Government Electrical Engineering Department was tasked with replacing those streetlights.
PS Cummins also disclosed that the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance would be looking to recover costs from streetlights damaged or destroyed in motor vehicle accidents.
He added that the Ministry was working with the General Insurance Association of Barbados to recover costs when poles were damaged.
The Public Sector Smart Energy Programme is co-financed by the IDB, through a loan in the amount of US $17.0 million, and by the EU, through a grant of US $7.664 million.