Glen Walter held hostage to old streetlights

A section of Sabourin Drive in Glen Walter, Ont. is filled with an orange glow from sodium fired streetlights on Monday, March 4, 2019. South Glengarry will try again to get Cornwall Electric and Fortis Inc. to allow it to change the lights to LED technology -- the last area of the municipality. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

GLEN WALTER – While South Glengarry has changed out most of its urban area streetlights to LEDs, the municipality is somewhat held hostage to old orange sodium-fired lighting technology in Glen Walter.

The village, on the municipal boundary with the City of Cornwall, is in an area serviced by Cornwall Electric – not Hydro One.

South Glengarry Infrastructure GM Ewen MacDonald told council last week they have been able to change streetlights within Hydro One’s territory to LED technology because South Glengarry owns the lights, and the project has already seen substantial savings for the township.

The $243,000 project, which started in 2017, has already saved South Glengarry about $58,449 in one year and is forecast to pay for itself by December 2020.

“The payback on this has been significant,” Coun. Sam McDonell exclaimed. “Why has this not been done in Glen Walter?”

When the Cornwall power company was sold 1998, the infrastructure within the city limits was transferred to the City of Cornwall, MacDonald explained. But, for whatever reason, the same thing didn’t happen for South Glengarry.

“So…the company Fortis, Cornwall Electric, will not let us change our street lights to LEDs to save money on their electric bill?” McDonell asked. “Correct,” Mayor Frank Prevost answered.

Prevost said they have approached Cornwall Electric in the past and will try again.

Infrastructure GM Ewen MacDonald said they will try to get Fortis to consider “partnering with us” to change the energy-hogging bulbs to LEDs, considering the strong evidence of cost savings from the green technology elsewhere in the municipality.

“Right now, they’re (Glen Walter residents) paying premium prices for their street lighting where they shouldn’t have to be,” MacDonald said.

With the new council, Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden said it’s time to “send another signal” to Cornwall Electric and Fortis that South Glengarry wants a solution to the lighting issue.

MacDonald said he would meet with Cornwall Electric and Fortis and see if “there’s a lot of push back” before council takes any more steps.

Fortis Inc. – the parent company of Cornwall Electric – did not respond to a request for comment for this story.