Street Lights and Cost Savings

Southern California Edison (SCE) recently announced that cities may now purchase and assume control of their SCE-owned streetlights. While we tend not to think much about our networks of street lights, these systems typically represent a city’s single largest energy cost item, draining as much as 60% of a city’s electricity budget.

After taking ownership of their light posts, municipalities are allowed to retrofit them for greater efficiency. By installing low-energy LED bulbs the city also becomes eligible for rebates. The end result is lower energy use, fewer SCE charges, and reduced maintenance costs.


One of the first cities riding this wave of cost savings with LED technology is the City of Los Angeles. Having recently replaced every bulb not deemed historically protected, the city has seen roughly a 60% reduction in energy use, translating to more than $7 million in savings annually. The city also estimates that it saved $2.5 million in maintenance costs.

In these tough times, a chance to cut costs so dramatically has garnered the attention of elected officials and staff alike. The first question usually posed is “how do we get started?”

To answer that question, and to start cities on the road to better, less expensive lighting, organizations in the region are uniting to offer programs tailored specifically to suit this opportunity.

The Municipal Street Lighting Program is an excellent example. Offered jointly by ICFA and Climatec , this program allows cities to acquire their streetlights from SCE without spending a dime. Bond financing is arranged by ICFA while Climatec executes and installs the conversion of the lights. The end result is a comprehensive modernization effort requiring no out-of-pocket expenditure by the city.

While residents may not be aware of the money their city is saving, they will notice fewer lights in need of repair and better nighttime visibility. This is one of those rare opportunities in local government to improve quality of life for residents while saving money both now and in the future.


ICFA, in partnership with Climatec and Southern California Edison, sponsored a webinar on this program on September 12, 2013 at 11 am. If you were unable to join us, you can watch the presentation in full by clicking here.


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