by Jonathan Weaver
An Ellwood City LED fixture could be the answer to some of Ford City Borough’s biggest problems.
After contact with Borough Council Vice-President Tyson Klukan, Appalachian Lighting Systems (ALLED) Systems Specialist Kate Wassel and her father, Jim – (the company founder and Chief Technology Officer) – presented a fifth-generation street light to council members last night.
The light not only would decrease energy consumption, but also has a hidden full high-definition color camera to reduce crime.
“What it becomes is, you no longer have just a street light on a pole (but) you also have a camera attached to the street light,” Kate said. “It’s not as obvious. You deter vandalism because someone thinks ‘Oh, it’s just a street light.’”
For about two months, ALLED has received “great” feedback from officials from Ellwood City (Beaver/Lawrence Counties), and Kate said positive reviews have also come from Riverside Market, local entrepreneur Jeff Mantini and Pennsylvania State Police leaders at the Kittanning barracks.
“Wherever there’s a public space, people want to have cameras,” Kate said.
Kate and Jim proposed Ford City test out the industrial-grade product for free for 30 days – if not longer – and give feedback before making a final purchasing decision.
Jim clarified that nothing is recorded during the trial period, but it would help Ford City officials see what is going on and help ALLED improve their product.
“We’re trying to keep this as non-invasive as possible for getting us information and feedback,” Jim said.
Borough Council President Carol Fenyes explained what prompted the company’s presentation last night.
“Tyson has been trying to economize our utility bills by investigating LED lighting, and this is an offshoot of that. And for security reasons, we have cameras at the garage and we were thinking about having cameras down at the park, along the trail or along Ford Street (where Ford City owns street lights),” Fenyes said.
Klukan described the financial savings as a “win-win” for both Ford City and ALLED.
“Looking at the trend in technology, LEDs are what you are seeing cities go to, but additionally, I’ve been reading a lot of case-studies. Greensburg, for example, saved 65 percent in energy costs,” Klukan said. “Right now, we’re paying about $5,500 per month for street lights alone.
“If we can cut that down at least 50 percent, that’s huge.”
As Klukan explained, Ellwood City owns their street lights, as opposed to Ford City, who has an agreement with FirstEnergy.
Kate said Ford City would not be bound to purchase a certain number of fixtures.
“Depending on what the Borough would want, not every street light would need to contain an actual camera,” Kate said. “For certain cities, they recommend just a main intersection so you can see if there was an accident. In the City of North Las Vegas (though), they’re talking about cameras on residential streets and actual main streets just because that area is a high-crime area and they need to have certain types of protection for the community itself.”
Councilwoman Beth Bowser opined that she would like to try the system at “full-capacity,” though was not comfortable agreeing to the test until Council establishes the financial cost – which Fenyes also told Jim and Kate.
During the presentation, the father-daughter team also showed council members a live feed from security lights operated through the California Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans.
ALLED would install the LED fixture – which has been on the market for about a year following testing.
Ford City Council representatives plan to travel to Ellwood City to see the system.
Eventually, council members could buy or lease the security lights for as low as $2,000.