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Shawnee street light switch to LED taking time

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star

If it seems like non-working street lights in town are taking a while to get fixed, there's a specific reason why.

OG&E is transitioning to an LED lighting system throughout Shawnee. Because of this, certain light poles that have been reported as out could take a little longer to get back on.

OGE Energy Corp. representative Melaina Moffatt, manager of resource coordination ops and scheduling, said it can be a lot more complicated than just getting up there and changing a bulb.

Because of the LED Lighting Tariff, which went into effect in late 2018, OG&E has since been changing out all its existing lighting to LED. Whenever a legacy light fails, it will be replaced with an LED equivalent, she said.

“It's a five-year program,” she said.

In OG&E's service territory there are about 295,000 lights, Moffatt said.

She said the company has been converting them since 2018 and there are about 69,000 converted so far.

OG&E has five years to do the conversion, she said.

“Within Shawnee, we've actually converted 323 lights to LED,” she said. “We've got LEDs on Kickapoo and Harrison.”

There are about 2,351 legacy street lights in Shawnee to go.

She said the project is rolling out, it just takes a bit, considering it is done through attrition (phasing out) and relies on the legacy lights failing.

“If there is a request to change out to LED prior to failure, an early conversion fee of $177.58 applies and lights will be under a three-year contract,” she said. “If the contract term is not fulfilled, an early termination fee of $114 will be assessed.”

All new lighting requests will be LED only, she said.

Conversion

“Most of the lights on interstates and thoroughfares, like 177 — even the lights on Harrison and Kickapoo — are on a 480-volt circuit and must go through a circuit conversion process to safely convert the voltage to replace the legacy light with an LED,” she said.

The process begins with a reported outage. A ticket is created at OG&E after the city or a resident reports the outage. A light crew responds to the ticket and assesses the trouble.

“If the lights are able to be changed at the moment on the spot, depending on their circuit wattage, then we go ahead and convert them,” she said.

If the outage is on a 480-volt circuit and the legacy light fixture or photocell has failed, then the circuit is submitted for conversion, Moffatt said.

The job then has to go to OG&E's engineering department so a job can be designed to convert the lighting circuit to a different voltage.

“We're actually converting the voltage of those circuits from 480-volt to 277 or 240, it complicates things,” she said.

Moffatt said after that is done the necessary materials are ordered, the job is prioritized and scheduled for construction.

According to OG&E, the process for converting a circuit:

• De-energizing the line

• Removing the 480-volt transformer

• Hanging a new 277-volt transformer

• Removing and replacing the spools

• Removing the legacy photocell from the line

• Removing all legacy light fixtures

• Installing LED light fixtures

• Installing LED controllers

• Installing 5A fuse holders and fuses in the line before each light

• Energizing the line and testing the lights to verify full functionality

Time to make the switch

“General lighting maintenance tickets are completed within five business days,” Moffatt said. “If the issue is a bad underground repair or replacement, it can take up to an additional 20 business days.”

Going through the process to safely convert voltage for the circuit conversions can cause extended delays, she said.

Not fixed

The tall lights surrounding Interstate 40 and Kickapoo have been out for quite some time.

“Those high-mast towers are about 90 feet,” Moffatt said. “They require some special management.”

The high-mast lights were not included in the original LED project, at that time there was no LED solution for high-mast towers.

“Within the last year, we updated the tariff to include an LED high-mast solution,” she said. “That has some different requirements.”

In order for OG&E crews to go out to those towers, two things have to happen.

“One is the city has to sign an LED agreement for high-mast, which the city has done,” she said. “Two, those towers have to be inspected for mechanical and structural soundness.”

She said OG&E doesn't want to take any chances, from a safety standpoint.

“Before we roll out there and have a crew lowering that ring, (we need to be sure) the structure is sound and safe for them to be there,” she said. “That's what we are waiting on; we have to get those towers inspected — the City of Shawnee is responsible for that.”

Another snag is that those high-mast towers are tied to the same circuit as the Interstate 40 lights.

“You guys may have noticed some of the lights on I-40 are out, well the reason we can't roll out there and change those lights is because of 480-volt circuits,” she said. “If I convert the circuit on those interstate lights, then I take those high-mast towers out of function.”

The towers can't be taken down because usually they have FAA lights on top of them, and OG&E is required to keep those FAA lights glowing, she explained.

Smart lights

“Those lights are smart,” she said. “those lights in the controller actually speak to our network.”

they have a chip similar to a SIM card in a cellphone, she said, and they communicate to OG&E's system.

“They can tell us when something is going wrong,” she said. “That allows us to be able to monitor it, and in the future we're going to activate it to where our system will proactively create maintenance tickets and roll trucks — no longer relying on customers to call in.”

To report an outage, call OG&E Customer Service, at (405) 272-9741, or visit online at OGE.com.