Philadelphia may hold the title for first-ever public streetlights, thanks to Benjamin Franklin, though it’s been a bit slow to adjust to modern light technology. But that’s about to change.
According to the Inquirer, the city’s energy office will issue a call to vendors for bids to convert all 100,000 streetlights to LEDs within the next two to three years. Philly already has about 5,000 LED lamps they’ve installed for recent pilot projects.
It was reported that converting the streetlights can cost somewhere between $50 million and $80 million. Although the cost to convert the lamps is high, the carbon footprint will shrink and ultimately save the city money in the end, according to the Inquirer. Energy officials are hoping that this conversion can reduce their costs by 40 percent.
“We’re in a place where we can invest in LED street lighting and the project will pay for itself — at a minimum, it will be financeable over 20 years, potentially sooner than that,” Adam Agalloco, the city’s energy manager, said.
The Inquirer reported that the conversion plan isn’t as easy as switching light bulbs. LEDs require new fixtures that are controlled remotely and connected wirelessly. This way, the operator can adjust levels of brightness based on situation and timing. The new tool can also monitor the amount of electricity used by the streetlights.
Richard Montanez, deputy streets commissioner, said the cost of traditional high-pressure sodium fixtures is growing because most vendors have already switched to LEDs.
Besides being a more energy-efficient method of lighting, LEDs are brighter than traditional streetlights. The city hopes these brighter lights help deter criminals.
On the flipside, officials are concerned that residents will not like the blue tone of the lights versus the warm-toned lights they are used to. It was reported that the blue lights will likely be better when it comes to security cameras and law enforcement. They will be speaking with the community for feedback regarding the lighting situation.
The streetlight conversion in Philadelphia is part of the city’s larger “Municipal Energy Master Plan.”