With one eye on the electricity bill and another on maintenance costs, Richland officials are considering using LED streetlights in future developments instead of the traditional high-pressure sodium bulbs.
A resolution supporting updated lighting standards -- including a requirement that builders use LED lights in all new developments -- is expected to be considered by the city council on Oct. 21, said Jeff Peters, transportation and development manager for the public works department.
An LED technology pilot project in the Badger Mountain South development has been active since November and uses remote monitoring and a control system to track energy usage. The LED lights use about 45 percent less energy than traditional lights, Peters said.
Citywide, LEDs are projected to use between 38 percent and 59 percent less energy than high-pressure sodium bulbs, depending on wattage, Peters said.
Under the proposed resolution, only new construction projects would be required to install LED lights. Existing light fixtures would not be modified or replaced at this point.
Richland spends about $450,000 annually to operate and maintain its lights, Peters said.
Although more expensive than high-pressure sodium bulbs, LEDs can last 15 to 20 years, while high-pressure sodium bulbs need replacing every five to seven years. LEDs also typically require one maintenance visit in their lifetime compared with up to four visits for high-pressure sodium lights. LED luminaries have fewer catastrophic failures, according to Richland's lighting standards review.
"It's anticipated that once we get to LED we won't be stocking bulbs anymore," Peters said, adding that a reduced inventory should also save money.
LED lights also provide a more uniform, focused light, Peters said.
One of the first projects to receive LED lights will be the Stevens Drive extension from Lee Boulevard to Wellsian Way, which should break ground next spring. Peters said no cost-saving analysis was performed comparing the use of LED lights with more-traditional technology.
A smart operating system used to monitor and control LED lights in Badger Mountain South could be adapted to monitor smart LED lights elsewhere in the city, Peters said.
"Control systems are available for LED lighting that can monitor the health of the luminaries, allow dimming control, and provide adaptive lighting that can be tailored to the time of day, traffic volumes, or pedestrian activity," the city's report said.
City officials will "more than likely" expand the current system to monitor future LED lights instead of purchasing new technology, Peters said.
Richland's lighting standards review recommends a citywide conversion project, but Peters said that will have to be considered down the road.
Kennewick spent about a year switching its 5,672 high-pressure sodium lights to induction lights -- a project completed in December 2012. Induction lights last about four times as long as fluorescent lamps.
Kennewick uses 49 percent less energy to power its street lights, saving the city $165,000 annually, according to Evelyn Lusignan, Kennewick's public relations and customer service manager.
Kennewick received a Benton PUD rebate of about $672,000 for implementing the energy conservation measure.
-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org