New LED streetlights are already saving Seattle $300,000 a year as Seattle City Light works to install tens of thousands more, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell and City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco announced today.
“In today’s challenging economy, it’s important that we look for every opportunity to stretch every dollar as far as it can go,” Harrell said. “Our new LED streetlights are reducing energy and maintenance costs while providing better, more reliable lighting.”
City Light has started work on the second phase of installing LED streetlights throughout the residential neighborhoods in its service territory. The utility installed 6,000 lights last year between the Ship Canal and North 65th Street. Contractors will install 12,000 LED streetlights this year from North 65th Street to the north end of City Light’s service territory. By the end of 2014, a total of 41,000 energy-saving streetlights will be installed.
“The LED streetlights installed in 2010 are performing even better than expected,” Carrasco said. “We anticipated a 40 percent reduction in energy consumption. Their actual electricity use is 48 percent less than the high-pressure sodium lights they replaced.”
Once all 41,000 lights are installed, they are expected to cut operating costs by $2.4 million a year.
The most obvious aspect of the change is the color of the light. The new LEDs have a color that is comparable to moonlight while the previous lights had an amber tint.
That change is more than a cosmetic difference. The whiter light provides truer color representation, more depth of field and greater peripheral vision, which improves safety for drivers, pedestrians.
Seattle police support the new lights and customers appreciate them too. Satisfaction surveys have found that 85 percent of Seattle residents living in participating pilot areas approve of the new lights and City Light has received complaints on only 2 percent of the installations thus far.
Success from the early installations has City Light looking for additional opportunities to use LED streetlights. The utility plans to test the lights on arterial streets this year. City Light also is investigating technology that would provide remote controls to dim or brighten the lights to meet the needs of changing traffic patterns – more light when drivers need it in heavy traffic, less light when fewer cars are on the road to reduce the impact on residents and increase energy savings.
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.