Traditional grid street lighting is becoming a less favourable
choice for municipalities and businesses. Why? Well, the costs of transmission
and distribution for grid power are consistently increasing, driving up the energy
costs for street lighting systems. Transmission and distribution costs will
continue to grow with ageing grid infrastructure and increased stress on the
grid. The grid’s vulnerability to blackouts and the emissions it produces are
also making municipalities hesitant. Off-grid street lighting is proving to be
the more economical, reliable, and environmentally friendly option.
Primarily, grid-based street lighting is becoming too expensive.
Transmission and distribution make up the lion’s share of your street lighting
system’s cost. Moreover, these costs have been going up significantly due to
necessary investments in ageing grid infrastructure and expanding the grid into
In turn, overall energy costs have increased. According to EnergyWatch, despite
decreasing actual electricity costs, overall prices have inflated because of
substantial transmission and distribution costs. On top of this, the Edison
Electric Institute foresees the need for an investment of $900 billion in the
U.S. grid, which will push energy costs up further in the future.
These cost increases mean that grid solutions with low capital
costs and high operating costs are far less valuable. Solutions with higher
capital costs relative to operational costs will cost less over time than the
inverse options because of the aforementioned increasing operating costs.
Therefore, a capital-intensive, low operating expense solution will be
significantly advantageous over the long term of the infrastructure’s life.
What’s more? Grid power is inefficient and produces substantial
carbon emissions. Thus, grid power does not fit with the goals of “going
green,” which many cities have now adopted. Finally, grid power is not
resilient, and it’s vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events, which
are becoming increasingly common. Overall, grid power is a risky investment,
and its exorbitant costs can no longer be justified.
One Municipality’s Utility Bill
In one residential town in Western Canada, the municipality pays an
annual street lighting bill of $200,000. This bill is for a town of 3500 people!
Unsurprisingly, 95% of these costs are associated with the transmission and
distribution of power, not the actual energy costs.
That is an enormous investment for a grid street lighting system, which
is susceptible to widespread blackouts from extreme weather events. Also, the
outdated grid infrastructure will likely need maintenance and additional
investment, causing costs to increase in the future.
Consequently, the town is investing in an energy management
program with the hope of reducing the overall, long-term costs of their street lighting
system, as well as reducing their total environmental footprint.
What is the solution?
The solution to this problem is off-grid power. With off-grid
power, power is generated from local sources, eliminating the transmission and
distribution costs that make grid power so expensive. In addition, when you
have Smart Off-Grid power, your energy is managed highly efficiently.
With smart power you can right-size your system to work within your capital budget while ensuring uptime because of advanced energy management.
As well, remote management capabilities through Smart Off-Grid drastically
diminish your operation and maintenance costs. Lower ongoing costs provide a significant
advantage over grid power in which regular maintenance is needed for ageing,
overburdened infrastructure. Finally, going with off-grid power also offers a
solution that has no carbon output and is resilient to major weather events.
Ultimately, off-grid power, particularly Smart Off-Grid, provides
the ideal solution to the glaring shortcomings of grid power. Municipalities are
moving toward off-grid, managed power street lighting solutions because they
see the major cost advantage versus solutions in which you pay high ongoing
costs for transmission and distribution. As well, as cities “Go Green,”
off-grid power will become increasingly important.
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