The design of the Renaissance luminaire may one day become ubiquitous nationwide.
Renaissance solar lights get time to shine
By Dan Hust
BETHEL Turns out Sullivan County can really say, “You saw it here first.”
The 24 prototype solar-powered streetlamps decorating downtown Woodridge, Swan Lake and the Woodstock monument in Bethel performed so well, they’re now commercially available.
Dubbed the Renaissance PV LED luminaire, the lights are a result of a collaboration amongst Sullivan Renaissance, the Gerry Foundation, NYSERDA (NYS Energy Research and Development Authority), Philips Hadco Professional Luminaires and SolarOne Solutions.
On October 1, officials from those companies and the community gathered at Bethel Woods to celebrate their success.
“I think they’re terrific,” Woodridge Village Trustee Joan Collins said of the lights. “They brightened the downtown in more ways than one not just with light but with the look of the lampposts. I can’t think of one negative.”
The only downside, said the manufacturers’ representatives, is that the lights cost about twice as much as a standard streetlight, between $5,000 and $9,000 per pole.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t catch on.
“They’re a viable alternative where the gridpower is either unavailable or costly to bring to a site,” explained Dan Frering, one of the project managers.
Plus, Renaissance will soon debut on its website, www.sullivanrenaissance.org, a toolkit municipalities can use to price out the various lighting options.
In the meantime, the prototypes have been a hit with the crowds, surveys of whom revealed that the softer, downward-facing lighting painted areas in a less harsh but nearly as bright glow as conventional streetlamps.
Once in a while, a lamp failed to light apparently due more to electronics issues than insufficient sunlight and sometimes the light was actually not considered bright enough, but most of the time they needed no maintenance, even easily and automatically shedding snow off the panels.
As a result, said Renaissance’s Colleen Emery, the involved towns and villages have agreed to take over ownership and maintenance of the solar lamps.
Collins indicated her village was glad to do so, having saved an estimated 6,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the past year.
Besides, she said, “it’s hellish to get NYSEG in to change a lightbulb!”