Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

Energy-Efficient Street Lighting: Safer Streets and Lower Energy Costs

3 min read

While the U.S. economic recovery has been strong, many financial and infrastructure needs for municipalities remain unmet. In addition, there is an ongoing challenge to fund energy efficiency improvements versus public works and maintenance expenses, even though the efficiency projects make excellent financial sense.

Constellation offers creative energy savings solutions that require no upfront capital. One township made impactful efficiency upgrades that are estimated to reduce the township’s energy consumption and maintenance costs by more than $200,000 on an annual basis. The township is able to pay for the project through their power bill with the ability to defer payments for up to 24 months. The upgrades included replacing miles of street lights and fixtures with more efficient LED lighting.

Installation of energy-efficient street lighting – with the technical and financial assistance of a retail supplier like Constellation – is low-hanging fruit for municipalities seeking to save money, reduce carbon emissions and meet sustainability goals.

Why is Energy-Efficient Lighting Important for Municipalities to Consider?

     1. High-quality lighting keeps streets safe.

LEDs, which have a longer life cycle, keep cities and towns more safely illuminated with better quality lighting. Street lighting is essential for providing pedestrian visibility and security. LEDs turn on immediately, whereas fluorescent lights require more time to fully brighten. “LED lighting can be helpful with security, allowing law enforcement to see more details of a person’s attire, due to the presence of short-wavelength light, according to the U.S. Department of Energy,” says Ed Wilson, executive director of associations at Constellation.1

     2. Energy-efficient lighting comes with monetary incentives…

The Pennsylvania township is estimated to save annual energy savings of over $135,000 and nearly $95,000 or more annually in maintenance costs. LED lights tend to last for 15-plus years, decreasing the need for changing out burned-out lightbulbs. Learn more about the benefits of LED lighting.

     3. …and environmental incentives.

By making the lighting upgrades, the township is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 506 metric tons, equivalent to removing more than 100 cars off the roads. Transportation accounts for about one-third of all carbon emissions, whereas electricity generation accounts for more than 40%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.2 Replacing high-pressure sodium lighting with energy-efficient street lighting can have a major impact in reducing a municipalities’ carbon footprint.

Questions to ask Prior to Making the Transition

Consider the following questions to ensure the switch to energy-efficient lighting is feasible and doesn’t have a tremendous effect on your local budget.

     1. What street lights are mine?

Municipalities will have more flexibility regarding who to work with to install new lighting if they own it. If the utility owns the streetlights, then it would be responsible for making the LED upgrades. It is common for municipalities to own some streetlights and for the utility to own some as well. Municipalities will need to determine which and how many are theirs to get a proper estimate on project costs2

      2. What are the procurement requirements for municipalities?

Municipalities must satisfy applicable procurement requirements to select a contractor for a street lighting project. Typically, the contractor is selected via a competitive bid process or from a government-approved vendor list.

      3. How can the municipality pay for the project without any upfront costs?

If the contractor selected is one of Constellation’s Efficiency Made Easy (EME) program channel partners, the municipality can take advantage of the EME program, which gives them the ability to pay for conservation upgrades—with no upfront capital— through monthly charges that appear on their competitive power or gas supply bill from Constellation. The cost of the street lighting upgrade can be spread out over a multi-year competitive energy contract with the ability to complete the lighting upgrades today and defer payments on the EME project for up to 24 months. Constellation also offers municipalities the ability to upgrade their lighting through a typical energy savings performance contract that can also include other energy efficiency solutions, such as water conservation and high-efficiency heating and cooling upgrades, through a non-power contract without upfront capital requirements. Learn more.

With LED street lighting, municipalities can see cost savings through a reduction in consumption and an improved load profile, positively impacting future energy costs and the ability to meet environmental goals over time.



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