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Ask Matt ... who made those street lights?

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Q. In June there was a crew from South Carolina replacing streetlight fixtures in downtown Hendersonville. The new ones look like LED lights. Why are they changing the streetlights and are those lights made locally by GE?

City Public Works Director Tom Wooten said that the goal of the re-lamping project is to improve the overhead lighting on the avenues between Church Street and King Street plus the alleys and the areas around the Dogwood Parking Lot. There are about 75 lighting fixture change-outs of various intensity ratings. All are LED lights.
Streetlights are not individually metered so the City pays Duke a monthly rate based upon the number and type of outdoor lighting fixtures. The new LEDs will cost the City slightly more than the old mercury vapor or sodium vapor lamps but the lumen rating (brightness) is higher. Plus there is a benefit from having presumably safer nighttime activities. Duke Energy will not charge for doing the replacements but the utility benefits from using considerably less power than the old lights required plus there is less maintenance for utility crews because the LEDs last longer.
But on the source question I had to dig deep. Engineers at GE were quick to tell me that these were “not our lights.” The Contractor that Duke Energy hired to hang the lights was closed mouth and Duke was slow to come forth with specifics. But the folks with American Electric Lighting (AEL) in Ohio confirmed that the flat cobra head type fixtures just installed in Hendersonville were made in one of two places – Conyers, Georgia or Monterey, Mexico. AEL is a subsidiary of Acuity Brands, a large lighting corporation with home offices in Georgia.
GE’s newly renovated facility in East Flat Rock makes LED streetlights so I asked our Chamber of Commerce to comment on the fact that Duke was not shopping locally for streetlights. The Chamber quickly recognized the contributions that GE has made in the community dating back to arriving here in 1956 –treading carefully because Duke is a member too. But neither the Chamber nor the City can dictate which fixtures Duke Energy will use. Duke officials stated that their company selects their products “based on pricing, product quality, light output, product availability and product support from the supplier.” Duke has used GE products in the past and has some in service now. With headquarters in Charlotte, Duke is a $23 billion utility that operates in the Carolinas, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio serving 7.5 million customers.
One more thing. GE recently announced it was considering selling its lighting division which is headquartered in Cleveland. It is unknown if and how such a move could affect their East Flat Rock plant. The company recently changed the name of the lighting division to “Current, powered by GE.” Stay tuned.

 

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