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Monday, December 15, 2008

Pittsburgh Councilman's plan to convert all of the city's street lamps to LEDs could save the city of Pittsburgh $3 million annually

Earlier today I received an email from the office of Pittsburgh city councilman Bill Peduto announcing an ambitious plan that will reduce Pittsburgh's carbon footprint while saving the city millions in electricity costs. Peduto, who has been the only city legislator to propose green legislation of any sort over the last few years, wants the city to convert all 40,000 of its street lamps to energy efficient LED lighting. The cost of the program will be around $24 million and will be paid using a combination of the annual costs savings and funding from the state's Guaranteed Energy Savings Agreement. Pittsburgh would join cities such as Austin, Raleigh (home LED manufacturer CREE), and Toronto as major cities who have adopted LED lighting on a large scale. According to Peduto, Pittsburgh would be the largest city in the US to roll out a complete conversion to LED lighting. This would be great news for Pittsburgh's green agenda, especially in light of today's Pittsburgh Penguin's press conference, where they announced the 21 year naming rights deal for their new arena, which will be known as the Clean Coal Center.

Check out this Wikipedia entry to learn more about Light Emitting Diodes.

Below is a copy of the Peduto plan for a bright and green Pittsburgh:

A Bright, Green Idea for Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh LED Project

Saving Tax Dollars While Saving the Environment


Over six months ago, Councilman William Peduto launched a trial of LED lights along the Walnut Street business district. Today, he is submitting a proposal for Pittsburgh to replace all 40,000 existing street lights with 200 Watt LED lights.


1) Green – Financial

Pittsburgh currently spends $3.2 million each year in electricity costs for our street lights. With the reduction of 137W of energy used by each of the 40,000 lights in the City of Pittsburgh, taxpayers will save $1.92 million per year in energy costs.

Pittsburgh currently spends approximately $1 million each year maintaining our street lights. An HPS bulb has 2 - 4 year life span versus 10 - 15 years for an LED light. Additionally, an LED fixtures burns out one LED at a time, which is in contrast to the current lights HPS lights which completely blow out all at once. This is expected to save taxpayers approximately $700,000/year in maintenance costs.

2) Green - Environmental

A 200W LED light only uses 93W of power. However, the existing 150W High Power Sodium (HPS) bulbs use approximately 230W (includes the ballast) of power. Therefore, over the year, the City of Pittsburgh will save 600 kWh of energy. This translates into 984 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions eliminated by switching all lights to LED.

LED lights turn on and off instantly with no warm up time. The existing HPS bulbs have a slow warm up period that is a waste of energy. Additionally, the existing sodium bulbs contain mercury in the ballasts, LED lights have no mercury.

LED lights produce a white light that stimulates the rods and the cones of our eyes. This creates a higher quality white light, while using less energy than the HPS lights that only stimulate the cones of our eyes and produce a yellow-orange light.


Each LED light costs approximately $500 to purchase. Additionally, it would cost about $100 in labor/light in conversion costs. Therefore, the cost to replace 40,000 lights would be approximately $24 million.


With a total cost of $24 million and an annual savings of $2,620,000 upon complete conversion, the City can fully payoff the LED conversion in 10.5 years.

Pennsylvania’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Agreement (GESA) can be utilized to cover the upfront costs of the LED conversion. According to the State, “Projects will be implemented where, through simple-payback analysis, cost savings resulting from energy conservation improvements exceed the associated financing. In other words, these guaranteed savings are used to cover operating budget finance payments over a period not to exceed fifteen years.


The City should issue a Request for Proposals (RFP’s) immediately requesting that all interested companies provide the City with ten test lights to install throughout business districts in the City for a six month trial (February 1, 2009 – July 31, 2009). During the trial period, measurements should be taken to determine the luminous intensity and the energy produced. Solar powered lights and those with photo-sensitive detectors that lessen the light during dusk and dawn should be included in the trial.

The City should award the contract no later than August 31, 2009, based on required conditions of the RFP process, reliability through trial phase, and long term financial and environmental impact. The contract should require work to begin no later than October 1, 2009 and completed by December 31, 2010.

The City should immediately submit an application with the State through the Guaranteed Energy Savings program.

The City should determine programs we can work with to properly dispose of the existing HPS lights. This could be done through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or a similar program.


Mark Rauterkus said...

The testing element is sorta interesting. But, it isn't what this city government should be doing.

These folks are not to be trusted. These folks are know to be capable of being corrupt. These folks are not researchers. These folks are not out of the realm of 'pay to play.'

Perhaps Peduto is 'clean' and 'green.' But, he won't be changing the light bulbs nor doing the data collection.

The RFP should be for researchers to do the research and investigatino. The city could offer access to lights, according to the design of the study.

That research can be done a university in the area -- or elsewhere.

Pittsburgh's proof of concept would be nice too.

However, it would be even better to use a program such as "UL Labs" to get the exact information to the city's needs.

I'd want to have the data be put into the public domain and everything to have 'peer review.'

This can be an academic and applied engineering quagmire. Bring it on.

There is little rush to do the RFP in an "immediate" way. There is a need to do it well and obtain results that are repeatable and worthy of replication in other markets in North America.

Furthermore, there can be many more instances of 'savings' when the lights can be turned off and on when needed and not. Lights on the basketball court when it is raining and none are playing should be turned off.

What about motion sensors?

Lights don't need to be 'on' in bathrooms when vacant, for instance.

Matt H said...

I love the plan. Peduto rocks.

BMartin said...

How about having LED lights with all your ideas added? What is wrong with having LED lights on a B-Ball court and turning them off when it is raining or no one is playing? Maybe I misunderstood your posting, but do you not believe in investing in LED lights throughout the city? It makes perfect sense. Not only will that save the environment but also some cash, which the city needs.