LED lighting technology has the potential to be a “game changer” in many ways. Some are expected as the technology matures, such as the new LED area lights that Wake Electric has installed, but some benefits are completely unexpected.
One example is that since nearly all traffic signals now use LED technology and use much less electricity to operate, it is now practical to consider installing battery back-up systems to operate traffic signals during a power outage.
While the average annual outage time for any Wake Electric service location is only about two hours per year, even a short outage affecting a traffic signal at a busy intersection can cause a serious problem.
In addition to the obvious public safety issues, inoperable traffic signals can cause traffic jams that make it difficult for Wake Electric’s service vehicles to move from place to place to restore electric service.
As a result, Wake Electric has installed battery back-up systems on all the traffic signals in our service area. These systems provide about 4 hours of normal operation.
We have also installed an extra “smart meter” to monitor the output of the battery back-up system and report any problems or if the battery power had been depleted.
While we are not aware of any other electric utility in North Carolina that provides this service, we think that it is a great opportunity that other electric utilities should consider.