Michigan city commits to LED streetlight retrofit

Since so many of you are reading my dispatches about the use of LEDs, here’s another one for you: The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is converting ALL, yes, ALL of its downtown streetlights over to this sort of light starting in November. The project is part of the LED City initiative, which already includes Raleigh, North Carolina, and Toronto, Ontario.

Since so many of you are reading my dispatches about the use of LEDs, here’s another one for you: The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is converting ALL, yes, ALL of its downtown streetlights over to this sort of light starting in November. The project is part of the LED City initiative, which already includes Raleigh, North Carolina, and Toronto, Ontario. (That's in Canada, eh, which incidentally is a whole lot greener in general than the U.S. seems. I'm just saying.)

I just had this sudden random thought: Remember the classic movie “Gaslight”? In it, a sicko husband messes with the gas lamps, dimming them and flickering them to drive to drive his wife nuts. There could be a time in our future we have to explain the reference to our kids!

But I digress more than usual. … The Ann Arbor project is being undertaken in conjunction with LED technology company Cree, which supplied a portion of the lighting components. The city has been running a smaller test of the lights on a city block, using streetlights based on the New Westminster product line from Lumec. (You can get more information about the Lumec products here. There's also a company named Relume involved.) Based on the results of the smaller test, the city snagged a $630,000 grant from the Ann Arbor Development Authority that it will use to fund the LED retrofits.

Those in the LED biz claim that LED streetlights burn about five times longer than the ones they typically replace (or about 10 years).

According to Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, the installation could save the city up to $100,000 per year in electricity costs and reduce its annual greenhouse emissions by 294 tons of carbon dioxide. The retrofit will take approximately two years. The city will work in conjunction with Detroit Edison, which will meter the streetlights, to determine whether a new pricing/usage model should be developed.

By the way, to close this LED tidbit, just heard from the folks at HolidayLEDs.com, who report that the Michigan city of Mason has committed to using LED lights on its community Christmas tree. The city is replacing 500 old incandescent bulbs with 1,200 LED lights. HolidayLEDs estimates that the bulbs will use about 870 kilowatt hours of electricity over the 42-day holiday period during which they will be illuminated. That compares with about 3,276 kilowatt hours for the old-style bulbs.

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