CHENNAI: Greater Chennai Corporation is saving big on its electricity bills after it replaced 2.8 lakh street lights with LED lights. The civic body that was paying about Rs 6cr a month to burn sodium vapour lamps is now paying Rs 2.5cr less since March. At this rate, annual savings will go up to Rs 30cr.

While Tamil Nadu began implementing the scheme in 2013, it started in Chennai in 2015. The Rs 145cr project was completed this March. LED street lights reduce capital investment by 15% and consume 60% less energy when compared to vapour lamps. “In Chennai, however, we are yet to tap full efficiency as we need to bring the lights under central monitoring system for which tenders will be floated soon,” said corporation commissioner G Prakash.

Although defunct street lights continue to be one of the biggest grievances, residents are happy with the initiative as they are aware that LED lights reduce carbon footprint and are energy-efficient. “These lights are brighter and are more durable. The streets in the city are brighter,” said Vasanthi Kannan, a resident of Kodambakkam.

Not just bills, the LED lights will last long and will bring down operation and maintenance costs. Each light has a minimum life of eight years.

A corporation contractor who changed these street lights said that a 250 Watt sodium vapour lamp costs about Rs 3,000 but it requires replacement almost every year.

“Moreover, the bulbs and choke of these lamps need repair. But an LED light has a minimum life of eight years. Moreover, maintenance cost is 15% less. While we still have to pay for manpower, the capital costs will come down,” said the contractor.

Since Chennai has more high-mast lights, the conversion has led to higher returns. “For every high-mast with sixteen 400 Watt lamps, only 1,800 Watt LED lights are required. There is a direct 70% savings,” said an official.

But there are glitches. On Canal Bank Road at Kasturibai Nagar in Adyar, the distance between the poles of the street lights is longer and some lights do not burn most of the times despite complaints. “Some lights are covered by tree branches,” said Sanjeev, a resident activist. He said while lights on the main roads were in good condition, those fitted on interior streets were very dim. He said timers on LED lights were not synced with sunrise and sunset. “If these are rectified, there could be more savings,” Sanjeev said.

G Y Divakar Babu of Royapuram said many lights on main roads are switched off after 10.30pm. “I am not aware if its due to power failure or some other issue, but it is dangerous,” he said.

Corporation officials said once the remote sensing technology using GPRS is implemented to centrally monitor the street lights, these issues will be resolved.

Source: TOI