The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has completed an $18.9 million streetlight project in which more than 8,000 fixtures were replaced with energy efficient LEDs.
The streetlight conversion program was done in a partnership with renewable energy company Ameresco and replaced high-pressure sodium lighting fixtures across the Portland area. Lighting was also upgraded in 13 tunnels.
The LED streetlights are dark-sky friendly and use 50% less energy than traditional highway lighting, Ameresco says. The overall project will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 3,500 metric tons a year.
The lights have a lower color temperature compared with previous lighting, which means they won’t have to be replaced for 15 to 20 years, Ameresco says. The older, high-pressure lights lasted two to four years.
ODOT says the project will save on maintenance costs and is part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions through renewable technologies.
According to the Climate Group, lighting accounts for up to 5% of the world’s carbon emissions, and public lighting accounts for 20% to 40% of a municipality’s electric bill. A switch to LED lighting can cut energy costs by as much as 70%.
Switching to all LED lighting would also save 735 million tons of carbon emissions worldwide, according to the Climate Group, and up to $6 billion in energy costs in the United States alone.
Similar programs as the one in Oregon have taken place across the country. In New York, the Smart Street Lighting NY program has replaced 300,000 streetlights throughout the state with LEDs with a goal to replace at least 500,000 through 2025.
In Chicago, more than 280,000 streetlights have been converted to LEDS, which will save $100 million in electricity costs over the next 10 years, the city says. Ameresco has also been a part of similar projects in Oregon, helping Medford update 8,000 public lighting fixtures.
ODOT and Ameresco worked to develop a plan that minimized traffic and safety concerns while meeting design standards. Ameresco also worked with Mobility Advisor Committee to complete the project.
Construction began on the ODOT project in May 2020 and was completed in December 2021.