Council Approves LED Streetlights

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The city will soon be brighter and shinier.

Newport Beach City Council approved a project on Tuesday that will swap out high-intensity discharge (HID) luminaires in 3,224 streetlights to high-efficiency LED (Light-Emitting Diode) luminaires.

“We look forward to bright lights in the city,” said Mayor Diane Dixon.

Council heard more about the project during the study session earlier in the day.

George Murdoch, city utilities general manager, and Rebecca Hausheer, a project manager with The Energy Network – a program that helps public agencies identify and implement energy saving projects, went over the details.

“It’s a pretty exciting project,” Murdoch said.

The estimated project cost is $1.176 million. An estimated $559,419 will be refunded through incentives. Approximately $616,859 will be funded through “on bill financing,” a zero percent interest loan from Southern California Edison on qualified energy efficient projects that will be paid back through the utility bill.

“The city will be refunded the entire project amount once the incentives and on bill financing checks are received from SCE,” Hausheer explained, “this typically takes two to four months after project completion.”

The city will only have to float the cost of the project for a few months, she added.

There are both financial and environmental benefits to this project, Hausheer said.

It will save the city $55,000 in annual maintenance and $100,000 on the utility bill.

Switching over this many lights will reduce streetlight energy consumption by about 56 percent, she explained. This will save the city more than 1.355 kWh annually and reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking 2,870 cars off the road.

Retrofitting streetlights with LED lights will  also make a big difference in aesthetics. LEDs are ideal for streetlights, she noted.

They provide improved lighting quality, reduced light pollution, and provide a truer light color, Hausheer said.

“You can actually see the difference,” she said.

They increases public safety, allow pedestrians and motorists to see colors more accurately, and provides higher and clearer visibility. LED lights also last longer, up to 20 years, she noted.

“Streetlight retrofits to LED fixtures have been one of the most successful project types that we support,” Hausheer said.

Success with this type of project has been driven by the improvement in LED technology, decrease of cost, and a “dramatic” increase in incentives from Edison.

Newport Beach is also a part of SCE’s Orange County Cities Energy Leader Partnership. The group gets together to discuss potential projects and energy efficient practices.

The city has completed 21 projects since 2010 through this partnership, including approximately 900 LED street lights so far, Murdoch explained. Irvine Avenue and Bayside Drive both already LED lights, Hausheer added.

“It’s been beneficial for us,” Murdoch said.

Through these projects, the city has saved about 2.56 kWh, or enough to power 363 homes powered a year, Murdoch noted.

They hope to get the new lights installed by fall.

“I think this is a great idea and we should get started on it and get moving on it,” said Councilman Tony Petros.

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