Momentum builds for LED street lighting, more traffic lights converted too

Jan. 20, 2010
Ann Arbor will continue its streetlight upgrade program, while a University of Pittsburgh study makes the case for LEDs.

Municipalities around the world realize the potential energy and maintenance savings associated with LED street lights, and more conversions are underway. Ann Arbor, MI was an early convert and is now planning a larger deployment. The University of Pittsburgh has completed a study that recommends in large-scale conversion in Pittsburgh, PA. Meanwhile, the conversion to LED traffic lights is much further along, but some new grant money will further accelerate that movement.

Ann Arbor actually made news a few years back becoming one of the first municipalities in the US to install LED-based streetlights. As LEDs Magazine reported in 2007, the city trialed 25 fixtures with subsequent plans to convert 1000 fixtures. Last year, featured a video about the project. The city claimed that the savings they have experienced with their initial program leads them to believe that they can recover the cost of replacing all 6600 lamps in town in just four years.

Fast forward to now, and the city is apparently ready to move forward with the program. is reporting that the city will convert 800 more lights by the end of 2011. The latest upgrade is being funded by a $1.2 million grant courtesy of the DOE's Energy Efficiency and Conversion Block Grant Program.

The Ann Arbor city government has taken a very proactive stance promoting LED usage. The city's Energy Office has a web page dedicated to LEDs including a whitepaper developed by the office. The web site states the goal of cutting the streetlight energy bill in half.


In Pittsburgh meanwhile, the university's Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation has completed a 72-page in-depth study on LED streetlights entitled "Life cycle assessment of streetlight technologies." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the story that concludes that the city could save $1 million per year in energy cost and $700,000 per year in maintenance cost via a conversion to LED streetlights.

Traffic signals

Moving to traffic signals, LED traffic lights were in the news a few weeks back because of safety concerns focused on snow blocking LED bulbs with winter storms ravaging the US. In the past few days, however, cities across the US have moved forward with more aggressive LED-traffic-light-deployment plans.

Just this past week, for instance, Texas comptroller Susan Combs announced that 15 Texas cities would receive $6 million in federal grants for traffic signal projects. The grants are specified for signal upgrades to LEDs, but that will be a prime use of the funds. For example, the Brownsville Herald reports that the money received by that city will go to LED signals.