Los Angeles Saves Millions With LED Street Light Deployment

Next month marks the four-year anniversary of the world’s most ambitious LED street light conversion project. On February 16, 2009, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and President Bill Clinton announced a partnership under which the city, advised by the Clinton Climate Initiative, would outfit 140,000 street lights with light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures.

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Project planners faced daunting logistics. The City of Los Angeles owns and operates the nation’s second-largest street lighting system: 210,000 street lights (including 70,000 decorative street lamps that will be retrofitted in a second phase) anchored along 4,500 miles of illuminated streets.

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Street lighting can account for up to 40% of a city’s electricity bill

Energy savings are real: “As the LEDs improve, and the manufacturers develop the technology, the energy savings are being realized and continue to increase,” wrote Ebrahimian. At the outset, city planners estimated LED fixtures would achieve a 40% electricity savings over HPS units; as noted above, the actual savings is more than 63%. In 2008, Los Angeles spent $16 million for the electricity to run its street lights. When the LED retrofit is completed, annual electricity savings should reach $7.5 million.

Maintenance savings are real, too: In 2008, pre-LED roll-out, Los Angeles logged 70,000 street light repair and maintenance events; in FY 2012, maintenance and repair events fell to 46,300. LEDs are longer lived than the incumbent units they replace (10-15 years versus 4-6 years), which means that maintenance should steadily decline as LED units are fully deployed.

Reality versus theory: “The change from HPS to white light with the LEDs is being perceived as a significant increase in lighting levels,” according to Ebrahimian. He added: “The change from HPS to white light [LEDs] have improved visibility as noticed by residents and encouraged by the police department.” In short, the city anticipated negative community feedback but citizens seem pleased with the change.

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