Energy, Utilities & Water  May 29, 2015

LED there be light: Longmont embracing efficient fixtures along streets

LONGMONT — The city of Longmont plans to convert all of its street and sidewalk lights to light-emitting diodes, following a national trend to transition to the new more efficient lighting.

By this summer, Longmont plans to replace 200 streetlights throughout the city with LEDs at a cost of about $75,000. Over three to five years, the city will replace all 4,100 high-pressure sodium lights with LEDs, which are expected to last two decades.

Despite the expense, Longmont officials expect savings on maintenance and energy costs. LED streetlights produce more light per watt of power consumed, last longer and cost less.

“These are far more energy efficient, with far less maintenance required,” said Scott Rochat, spokesman for Longmont Power & Communications.

Longmont’s efforts come amid a nationwide effort to transition from older, less efficient bulbs such as high-pressure sodium and metal halide lamps to LEDs.

LED street-lighting’s worldwide market share will grow from 53 percent in 2014 to 94 percent in 2023, according to a 2014 report from Boulder-based Navigant Research.

“I don’t know of many utilities that are installing non-LED streetlights,” said Mike Hyland, senior vice president for engineering services for the American Public Power Association. “Anybody who is doing a changeover seems to be doing LEDs.”

Longmont also has been replacing compact fluorescent lightbulbs in 9,823 smaller, 6-to-7-foot-tall lights in city neighborhoods with LEDs over the past three years. This summer, the city will replace the final 2,673 lights with LEDs.

LED technology only will get better as manufacturers make bulbs to emit more light while consuming fewer watts, according to the Energy Information Administration. Under new federal regulations, incandescent bulbs will be out of compliance by 2020.

Traditional 100-watt incandescent bulbs already do not meet federal standards, and in 2014, the federal government required production of higher-efficiency alternatives to traditional 40- to 60-watt incandescent bulbs.

“LED lighting technologies have been advancing rapidly with projections for further improvements, resulting in lower cost, increased reliability and reduced energy consumption,” according to the report from the Energy Information Administration.

Earlier this month, Xcel Energy filed a request with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to replace 95,000 light fixtures statewide with LEDs starting later this year. If approved by the utilities commission, Xcel Energy will work with cities interested in upgrading 100- to 400-watt high-pressure sodium streetlights to lower wattage LEDs.

The costs of the replacements are built into Xcel’s proposed rates, so cities will not have to pay up-front for the installations.

The new LED fixtures will deliver energy savings of from 40 percent to 60 percent compared with the traditional streetlights they will replace, despite higher capital costs for the new technology, according to Xcel.

Not everyone is excited about the prospect of LEDs lighting the entire nation’s streets.

In some places such as New York City, people have complained about brighter LED lighting compared with softer lighting replaced by LEDs, according to media reports. Longmont officials say workers can adjust the angle of LEDs inside light fixtures to direct light away from homes and other locations where it might pose a nuisance.

“They do burn a little bit brighter,” said Robert Francis, an engineer for Longmont Power & Communications. “But what the LEDs offer that (high-pressure sodium) do not offer is that you can direct the light to the areas that you want them to shine on.”

Hyland added that manufacturers are experimenting with ways to blunt harsh lighting of some kinds of LEDs with devices such as tinted fixtures.

Besides, many people prefer LED street-lighting to the orange glow of high-pressure sodium lighting, he said.

“I’ve been in a few communities where the orange glow creates a horrible color rendition,” he said.

LONGMONT — The city of Longmont plans to convert all of its street and sidewalk lights to light-emitting diodes, following a national trend to transition to the new more efficient lighting.

By this summer, Longmont plans to replace 200 streetlights throughout the city with LEDs at a cost of about $75,000. Over three to five years, the city will replace all 4,100 high-pressure sodium lights with LEDs, which are expected to last two decades.

Despite the expense, Longmont officials expect savings on maintenance and energy costs. LED streetlights produce more light per watt of power consumed, last longer and…

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