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Solar streetlight brightens intersection

ALCONA — A dark and often dangerous Alcona intersection is now bathed in solar-powered light thanks to new technology from an Innisfil alternative energy company.
API Power International Ltd. has partnered with the Town of Innisfil to set up an LED streetlight at the 20th Sideroad and Conc. 9 that uses two solar panels and a state-of-the-art battery system.
The system, which doesn’t require an electrical power source, is ideal for lighting remote areas, Dave Owen of API said during an on-site press conference Friday.
“The key to this is the battery system that no one else has,” Owen said. “It can last 17 years and there is nothing toxic in it.”
The battery can operate in wide-ranging temperatures from -40 C to 60 C and is being used to light city hall in Nairobi, Kenya and as far north as Thunder Bay.
API CEO Stephen Culbert said the company has been testing the battery system for four years.
“This is a fully bio-degradable battery and non toxic,” Culbert said.
The solar street light system at the intersection cost about $10,000 to have installed and will not create any hydro costs.
Mayor Barb Baguley said the stand-alone streetlight is another example of the town’s green initiatives.
“It is a constant request from the public and especially younger people are asking what we are doing to be green,” Baguley said. “And this is another opportunity to look at a more environmentally friendly way of working.”
Innisfil council has already approved $1 million to begin switching from standard sodium pressure lights to the brighter and more pleasing LEDs. While the project is costly upfront, it will save about 42 per cent in energy costs or about  $257,000 every year, infrastructure director Andy Campbell said.
“Energy costs are going up so it’s a question of how do we do something different,” Campbell said. “You have to spend money to save money.”
It will take about nine years to recover the initial retrofit costs through energy and maintenance savings. The town will negotiate with developers to make sure LEDs are used in all new subdivisions as well.
The town is going to tender on the first phase of the LED streetlight retrofit next year.
API, which has 10 to 20 employees in its Innisfil Heights plant depending on the season, plans to pitch its system in a tender bid.
There are several different LED streetlight systems available on the market.

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