The City of Poway is reviewing options for replacing approximately 3,000 street lights that use bulbs being phased out by its manufacturer. A capital improvement project to begin changing out the light fixtures is anticipated to begin Spring 2019. Below is information about what's happening and how the City is evaluating its options.
Why is the City of Poway changing its street lights?
While the low pressure sodium (LPS) lights currently in use by City of Poway had been the industry standard, standards are changing. The trend has shifted to light-emitting diode (LED) based lighting and last year the LPS bulb manufacturer notified Poway that it will cease to produce these lights. The cut-off date for ordering is still a year away (July 2019), but replacement bulbs are already becoming hard to find and costlier.
What is Poway’s next step?
The City has approximately 3,000 lights that will need to be converted. The color temperature for LED lights is higher and produces a whiter light that the LPS lights currently installed and there are many variables in appearance. The City has selected several lights to pilot in different areas that include both residential streets and major arterial roads. (View maps for Twin Peaks Rd/Woodcreek Rd, Community Rd /Olive Meadows Dr and Garden Rd/Montego Dr areas.) Residents in the immediately adjacent areas received letters advising them of the pilot program. The City’s Public Works department will gather feedback to determine what works best for Poway.
What factors go into selecting a new type of lighting?
The City is considering several factors, including: public safety, cost, energy efficiency, maintenance and aesthetics. Surrounding cities have installed LED street lights ranging in color temperatures from 2700 to 3550K, with the most common being 3000k. The color temperatures selected for Poway’s pilot program range from 2200-3000K. This range balances between the minimum color temperature offered for street lights and the maximum acceptable color temperature to comply with dark sky policies pertaining to the Palomar Mountain observatory.
What costs will Poway incur by changing out all street lights?
Funds to convert the City’s street lights from LPS to LED has been set aside in the City’s lighting district, which covers the operation and maintenance of street lights, traffic lights, safety lights, flashing beacons and lighted street signs in Poway. Once a light fixture is selected, staff will prepare an engineer’s estimate on the replacement costs, then issue a request for bids. At that step, the City will be able to model the energy savings and anticipated cost savings for maintenance.
Are there any pros or cons of moving from LPS to LED lights?
LPS lights fade over time and often appear more yellow or red in color, whereas LED lights appear brighter because the color temperature is higher producing a whiter light. The light produced by LED fixtures is more directional/focused than the spray of light from LPS which will also contribute to the appearance of LEDs being brighter.
LPS street lights are energy efficient and only a slight energy savings will be realized in switching to LED. However, LED lights can be dimmed which can in turn increase energy savings. For example, the City could take advantage of a modified street light rate from SDG&E does for dimmable fixtures to further increase energy savings. However, the biggest savings in switching to LED will be in reduced maintenance costs.
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