Bringing Ways to Reduce Cities' Energy Expenses to Light

Often seen only when they're out, streetlights are a "secret energy drain" on city budgets. Nate Berg looks at some promising efforts to take a substantial bite out of municipal budgets through the replacement of old streetlight bulbs.
May 1, 2012, 10am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As Berg notes, streetlights are "often cities' biggest or second biggest energy demand, and can amount to somewhere between one-quarter and one-half of a city's entire energy bill, sometimes even more." Like homeowners, cities across the country, from Seattle to San Jose to Albany, are looking to take advantage of advances in light bulb technology to reduce energy and maintenance costs.

Berg focuses on one particularly successful program in San Diego, in which "cities in the area have been able to streamline what would otherwise be a cumbersome process to make the switch from old bulbs to new. And with grant money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, 13 cities in the region have kicked off projects to replace about 55,000 streetlights, which will save an estimated $3 million annually....And it's not just energy costs that will go down. The old sodium bulbs typically had to be replaced every 3 or 4 years, while the new induction bulbs can last more than a decade."

According to Marty Turock, a program manager at CleanTECH San Diego, ""There's no reason why other cities, counties, entities couldn't replicate this model."

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Published on Monday, April 30, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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