Progress Energy Carolinas is establishing innovative financial models for LED streetlights. The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved a request from Progress Energy Carolinas to amend lighting rate schedules and streetlight service regulations to reflect the energy cost savings of LED technology. The changes will become effective on March 1, 2010.
Progress Energy Carolinas has received assistance from the Clinton Climate Initiative in the development of this innovative program, considered to be one of the first of its kind in the country. Officials hope that this initiative will serve as a model for other utilities confronting the same issues.
Inflexible rate tariffs have been a major disincentive to many cities considering the switch to LED streetlights. Most regulated utilities have not adjusted their rates to reflect the reduced energy use and operating costs of LED fixtures. Many regulated utilities have been indifferent to the idea of reducing rate structures to reflect the cost savings of LED streetlights. Typically, only municipally owned utilities or unregulated utilities have modified their rates. Progress Energy Carolinas, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, is an investor-owned utility.
According to Robert Henderson, of Progress Energy Carolinas, the utility will be offering two options to its LED streetlight customers. The first option, a co-ownership of streetlights, will cost the municipality a flat monthly facility charge per streetlight and will include purchase, installation and maintenance of the LED streetlight. As the price of LED fixtures decrease, Progress Energy Carolinas will adjust its pricing commensurately. The second option involves transferring ownership of the streetlights from Progress Energy to municipalities. Qualifying municipalities will be eligible to buy down the cost of the streetlight by purchasing each fixture. The monthly billed rate will be approximately half the cost of the first option and will include only the cost of energy, installation and maintenance.
Progress Energy has identified BetaLED as the preferred vendor for roadway streetlights and GE area lights as the preferred product for parking lot and shopping center lights for its LED outdoor lighting customers.