Power Authority Partners with Mount Vernon for New Traffic Lights for Lower Electric Bills and Traffic Safety

Connie Cullen                           
(914) 390-8196  

August 9, 2005


MOUNT VERNON—Traffic and pedestrian signals here will soon be using less electricity and burning brighter thanks to the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which has begun replacing them with new long-life, energy-efficiency lamps of the kind it provided earlier this year for the traffic signals in New Rochelle and Peekskill.

“The new traffic and pedestrian lights are good news for the people of our city on a number of counts—not the least of which are anticipated savings of about $74,000 a year on the city’s electric bills. Plus, they last much longer and are brighter than the old fixtures,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis at an event Tuesday near City Hall, to formally kick off the start of the signal-light project. “For all those reasons, we’re grateful to the Power Authority and Governor Pataki for making the installations possible.”

“Projects like the one in Mount Vernon are part of the continuing efforts under Governor Pataki to use the latest technologies to enhance the energy efficiency of tax-supported public facilities, lower municipal electric bills, and improve air quality by lessening the demand on power plants,” said Eugene W. Zeltmann, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “We’re excited about working with Mayor Davis and the City of Mount Vernon on the new signal installations, which also contribute to traffic safety by providing better illumination, particularly during poor weather and bright sunshine when traffic lights are more difficult to see.”

The new lighting technology consists of red, green and amber light-emitting diode (LED) modules that use about 90 percent less energy than the current incandescent bulbs, while lasting 10 times longer. That means lower maintenance costs.

Over 2,700 new LED fixtures will be installed in the existing traffic and pedestrian signal-light housings located throughout Mount Vernon. Typical traffic signal-light housings hold three, six, nine or 12 fixtures, depending on the street intersection. The project is expected to cover every signal-light in the city.

“If you’ve seen the new traffic signals in New Rochelle and Peekskill, you know that the ones slated for Mount Vernon are going to be an improvement over the old ones,” said Sobeida Cruz, NYPA director, Public and Governmental Affairs, who represented the Authority at Tuesday’s event.

The nearly $340,000 project for Mount Vernon should be completed by the end of the year. It is in addition to other energy-efficiency initiatives NYPA has undertaken at various public buildings in Mount Vernon, including the Public Library, that have lowered the city’s energy bills by more than $60,000 a year.

The Power Authority will provide the financing for the latest signal-light project and recover its costs over a five-year period by sharing in the savings, after which Mount Vernon will keep all future savings.

NYPA has undertaken more than 100 energy-efficiency projects for public facilities in Westchester, for a savings of over $7 million a year on their electric bills, and reduction of annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 54,000 tons. They include high efficiency lighting, new heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, and electric motors. Statewide, NYPA has completed more than 1,400 energy efficiency projects, for an annual savings of over $90 million and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of some 705,000 tons a year.

The Westchester facilities benefiting from energy-efficiency upgrades are among those in the county receiving lower-cost NYPA power, which saves governmental customers tens of millions of dollars a year, compared to the market prices they would otherwise pay. Mount Vernon has been one of those customers since May 1977.

Additional Power Authority efforts in Westchester include the Western Hemisphere’s first commercial fuel cell to harness waste gas to generate electricity, at the Westchester County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Yonkers; nine solar power installations; and putting nearly 200 electric-drive vehicles on the county’s roads.

NYPA is the largest nonfederal public power organization in the country, with generating projects ranging from a 2,400,000-kw hydroelectric facility near Niagara Falls to a small hydro project at the Kensico Reservoir.