LED-street-lightsIt’s hard not to be proud of the City of Los Angeles. This time it’s a home-run street lighting success, the world’s largest street lighting replacement. Earlier this year, then Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the completion of the 141,089 street light replacement project, covering 5,000 miles of lighted streets and 4,000 intersections. It is projected to avoid over 40,500 tons of annual emissions.

LA’s project was a partnership between the City of Los Angeles, the Clinton Climate Initiative, and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The partnership secured the $57 million project through a loan, net of $16 million in rebates from LADWP and a $3.5 million contribution from the Street Lighting Assessment Fund.

Los Angeles anticipates $7 million in annual electricity savings; plus $2.5 million in avoided maintenance costs. Three manufacturers were used: Cree, Hadco, and Leotek. Their lamps have been evaluated to use 63% less energy than the high pressure sodium lamps they replaced. And they’ll last much longer: Typical street lamps operate for 4 – 6 years while LEDs have 10 – 12 years lifespans.

The Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting has led the initiative in the fast-moving LED market. Its Director Ed Ebrahimian noted that a fixture cost the City $432 in 2009, and now costs $245 with a longer warrantee (7 years vs. 5), better efficacy (81 lumens per watt vs. 42), and a 150,000 hour lifetime (vs. 80,000). Ebrahimian also reports many positive comments from the public on the retrofits; the Dark Skies Association is pleased with reduced sky glow at night. Now LA will retrofit 70,000 decorative street lamps with LEDs.

Nationally, massive retrofit programs are in the works. Baltimore has completed its retrofit of 70,000 lamps. Las Vegas completed 42,000 street lights. Portland, Oregon is launching a retrofit initiative, and San Francisco and Seattle are reportedly considering following suit. The City of Austin, Texas plans for 35,000 LED street lamps; Central Public Service has announced it will install 20,000 LED street lamps in San Antonio. Navigant Research projects that LED street light annual sales will rise from 3 million units to 17 million by 2020.

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