LED Streetlight Pilot Project

Last updated Jun. 16, 2016 - 3:27 pm
Davie Street LEDs

The City of Raleigh is conducting a streetlight pilot project in which light emitting diodes (LED) are replacing traditional streetlights. The objectives of the pilot project are to explore how much money and electricity could be saved from converting all of Raleigh's streetlights to LEDs, and if LEDs provide a superior quality of street lighting.

Five areas have been selected for this LED streetlight pilot project.

  • Glascock Street from Wake Forest Road to Brookside Drive
  • Thorpshire Farm subdivision along Thorpshire Drive, Carrington Drive and Lindenshire Road
  • Sunnybrook Road from New Bern Avenue to Falstaff Road
  • Gorman Street from the railroad overpass to Faucette Drive
  • A section of South Blount Street just south of Downtown in the area of City Farm Road near Cargill Inc. 

There are currently LED streetlights Downtown along McDowell Street from the Raleigh Convention Center to Wake County Justice Center, in the block surrounding the convention center, and in an area adjacent to Progress Energy's headquarters building at Davie Street and Wilmington Street. There are also LED streetlights along Hillsborough Street from Oberlin Road to Gardner Street. These fixtures have performed well and cast an improved light compared to the high-pressure sodium fixtures they replaced.

There are a few noticeable changes that will occur from using LED streetlights regarding coverage, color and brightness. LED lighting is typically whiter than the yellow-orange, high pressure sodium vapor lighting used in streetlights in most parts of Raleigh. LEDs also are more directional, so less light will "spill" outside the roadway area. No part of the LED light extends below the bulb housing on the fixture which means less glare from a distance. LED lighting also tends to be uniform resulting in fewer dark and bright spots appearing along a lit street.

Other cities that use or are transitioning to LED streetlights on a widespread basis are Anchorage, Los Angeles and Asheville. Many other cities are either implementing LED streetlights or considering LED as a street lighting technology.

Sustainability Benefits

Over time, savings to the City potentially could be in the millions of dollars. No new charges will be assessed to the Raleigh residents for the new streetlights. The City's General Fund is being used to pay the cost of the LED streetlights. No additional assessments or fees will be charged to the areas in the pilot project.

In addition to monetary savings, LEDs provide several benefits. The new streetlights provide a whiter light, similar to daylight. They use less than half the electricity of traditional lighting technology and last considerably longer, requiring less maintenance. It is estimates that LED streetlights operating up to 12 hours a day should last a minimum of 15 to 20 years. Though the fixtures may last as long, traditional lighting requires that bulbs be replaced every two years. That equates to eight costly bulb changes in the 15- to 16-year life of a typical fixture. The light source in LED streetlights contains no mercury or other toxic substances as found in traditional streetlights.

Project Challenges

The City selected the locations for the pilot project where street lighting is on a month-to-month lease with Progress Energy. Other criteria included streets with varying widths and areas with different types of land uses, such as residential, commercial, and mixed use. No newer communities are included in the pilot area because areas that are less than 20 years old usually are under an active lease with Progress Energy with a penalty for early termination.

Other than potential cost savings, the pilot project will be considered a success based on feedback from residents and business operators in the area. City technicians will test the LED streetlights before and after installation to make sure they create conditions that are just as safe or safer than the traditional lighting. If the pilot program is proven successful City analysts will develop a phased plan for transitioning most or all of the City's 35,000 streetlights to LED.

Project Partners

Progress Energy will install and maintain the LED streetlights since they own and maintain the City of Raleigh's streetlight system. The City pays a monthly rental rate per light fixture. The monetary savings from this project will depend on the scope of the project and on the financing and rental rate structures the City will receive from Progress Energy.

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