Lighting UP the Locks

Published Oct. 31, 2014
An array of LED high mast lights are installed at Marmet Locks and Dam.

An array of LED high mast lights are installed at Marmet Locks and Dam.

A crew installs new LED fixtures at Marmet Locks.

A crew installs new LED fixtures at Marmet Locks.

A tow navigates through the Marmet Locks and Dam after the installation of new lighting.

A tow navigates through the Marmet Locks and Dam after the installation of new lighting.

Huntington District is pushing to spend Operations and Maintenance funds to take care of our aging infrastructure in innovative ways based on good engineering practices that put project longevity, energy conservation, and cost savings at the forefront of our business decisions.

Navigation lock and dam projects are staffed all year long, 24 hours a day, keeping the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers open for commercial and public waterway users.

But lighting our projects at night has been a challenge in the past. Adequate lighting is necessary at lock projects to avoid trips and falls on the lock wall and to aid in the locking process. Deck hands have to tie barges to fl oating mooring bits which can be obscured by shadows, and boat pilots have to see markings on the lock walls.

About 20 years ago the highway style lighting on 30-foothigh poles on our locks were supplemented by 100-foothigh mast poles with, typically, six 1000-watt lights to provide an average of 1.5 to 2.0 foot-candles in the lock chambers at lower pool.

The basic range of illuminance is taken from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) and our safety manual (EM-385-1-1).

Greenup Locks and Dam has had a history of voltage irregularities and they had intermittent undervoltage conditions at their high mast lights. A common direct result was: when one of the project’s hydraulic pump motors would start, the lighting would suffer from undervoltage and fail, which resulted in expensive relamping.

In 2013 one high mast light pole at Greenup was retro fi tted with modern LED (Light Emitting Diode) fi xtures. The LED fi xtures provide white light with greater intensity and color rendering for less than half the energy cost and are virtually maintenance free.

The light pole was used as a test to see how well the lights worked over time. According to Jim Osman, WY- 10 electrician, the project at Greenup had a rocky start.

The initial set of LED fi xtures had several failures because of power surges - however, the lighting manufacturer replaced this set of lights with their next generation with internal surge suppressors which have worked well so far.

In late December 2014, Greenup Locks and Dam retro fi tted all high mast poles on their project with LED fi xtures. The changeover to the energy effi cient LED high mast lights seem to have fi xed the project’s frequent relamping problem by providing less of a strain on the project’s electrical system.

Additional fi eld tests for LED high mast lighting are taking place at the Kanawha River lock and dam projects, which were the fi rst to be fully outfi tted with high mast LED fi xtures in early December 2014.

The Greenup locks pilot project was a solution to avoid frequent relamping with the fringe bene fi ts offered by ef fi cient LED fi xtures.

The engineering approach to retro fi tting all three Kanawha River lock projects with LED high mast lights was to achieve the best lighting con fi guration with the maximum cost/bene fi t ratio.

In order to achieve desired illuminance values, 3-D models of the lock projects were created in lighting software to model various lighting schemes. With today’s available software, classic lumen method computations are not necessary for designing an adequate lighting layout.

Within three weeks of receiving new fi xtures, all Kanawha River locks projects changed out their high mast lights. According to Chris Pinson, WY-11 mechanic, Marmet was able to change 56 fi xtures in four days.

Philip Stumph, WY-10 electrician, was happy with the easy installation procedure at London Locks and Dam and stated the new lights are absolutely bene fi cial to the project and completely changed the nighttime appearance of the facility.

According to Rob Neal, electrician, the old style high mast lighting fi xtures at Winfi eld needed maintenance at least annually for relamping and replacing faulty ballasts. Each new LED fi xture has a fi ve-year warranty and is speci fi ed to be good for 97,000 continuous hours (11 years).

A light meter was used at Win fi eld Locks to compare actual readings to the designed foot-candle values - and the readings were spot on. Areas where light from adjacent poles overlap provide light intensities up to three times greater than the old system.

A comparison of the electrical current draw of the new lights compared to the old lights was measured at the Marmet Locks. The measured ampacity was true to the speci fi ed savings by the LED lights, which use approximately 60 percent less energy.

One pole out fi tted with six 1000-watt fi xtures equates to energy costs of roughly $2,400 per year on average. One pole out fi tted with six LED fi xtures rated at 461 watts equates to energy costs of roughly $1,070 per year on average.

If these fixtures were at all nine locks the energy cost savings would extrapolate to $107,800 savings per year for the district compared to using the old high mast lights. When energy cost savings are bundled with savings from less maintenance the cost/bene fi t ratio is easily justifi es the purchase.

Reports from night shift lock employees have been positive. Osman said one immediate improvement he noticed at Greenup is the “instant on” feature. The old lights took a few minutes to warm up to full intensity.

Jimmy Hill, WY-10 electrician, reported the crew was happy with how much brighter the new lights are and was happy to see the new technology showcased at Marmet.

More of our lock projects will be installing LED high mast fi xtures this year. Installation of new LED high mast lighting is just one example of how the Huntington District is seeking modern engineering design alternatives to meet operations and maintenance needs of our infrastructure.