LED lighting has expanded dramatically across the US since 2009 when the Recovery Act was first implemented that gave a kick-start to the industry in its push to lower utility costs for cities across the US. Barriers associated with technology, cost and legislative hurdles are being reduced to increase adoption rates for full-scale retrofits of city roads with solid-state lighting. The US Department of Energy sponsored the annual meeting of the Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium (MSSLC), which was held on Wednesday in Phoenix, Arizona that offered keen insight into the prospectus for LED lighting in this application moving forward.
One of the highlights of the event was an in-depth analysis and life cycle cost review for the world’s largest LED streetlight retrofit project accomplished by the City of Los Angeles this summer, including the installation of over 140,000 LED street lights. Los Angeles has estimated that it will reduce its annual electric bill by at least $7 million dollars, in addition to $2.5 million dollars in reduced maintenance cost savings. According to Navigant Research, the LEDs that have been installed in Los Angeles use on average about 63 percent less electricity than the high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures, based on high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp technology, that they have replaced, while also offering cosmetic and longer lifetime benefits.
Los Angeles, along with its partners, including the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), have set a precedent in this massive project, which will spur future growth. Furthermore, Navigant Research recently predicted that shipments of LED street lights will increase from fewer than 3 million in 2012 to more than 17 million in 2020. The second phase of Los Angeles’ LED replacement program will see the retrofit of about 70,000 decorative street lamps located throughout the city.
The MSSLC event also expounded on other successful LED street lighting retrofit campaigns across the US such as the one in Las Vegas. In March of this year, the City of Las Vegas finished retrofitting 42,000 street lights with LED fixtures. By converting to LED lights, the city hit the jackpot in $2 million of annual savings. This $20.8 million capital project reduced the city's electric bill for street lighting by about 50 percent and reduced millions in long-term maintenance costs, because they will last up to three times longer. The new lights are predicted to function up to 13 years and demonstrate a payback period of about seven to ten years. What’s more, the cost savings will be dedicated towards other green projects, including a 300kW solar installation and the renovation of public buildings to higher energy-efficiency standards.
Other cities highlighted at the MSSLC event were New York and Phoenix. In addition, a trade show September 9-10 preceded the event and exhibited LED street and area lighting products from all of the top manufacturers globally. Interestingly enough, the conversion of traffic signals from incandescents to LEDs can offer even larger savings up to 10-to-1, as reiterated in several presentations based on DOE statistics at the event, since incandescents are essentially the least energy-efficient lighting technology in use.
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