Friday, October 25, 2013

Bright Lights, Big City: All NYC Street Lights will be LED

New York City will be seen in a whole new light over the next few years, as an effort to switch to LED lighting continues. Mayor Bloomberg announced all of the city’s 250,000 street lights will be changed over to light-emitting diodes by 2017, noting that the upgraded lights will save taxpayers around $14 million a year once complete. The savings are two-fold: LEDs consume less power than the high-pressure sodium lamps currently in use, resulting in around $6 million in savings, and also have a much longer lifespan, lasting up to 20 years. Current street lights last an average of just six years.

Mr. Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the plan on the newly refurbished Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, where the DOT has already replaced the old high-pressure sodium lights with energy-efficient LEDs.

The project has been a long time in the making. New York City has been testing LED lights for a number of years — In addition to Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, LEDs have been installed along the FDR Drive, along Central Park’s pedestrian paths and on the “necklace” lights that adorn the cables of East River bridges, to name just a few.

The announcement comes as more and more cities have started adopting LED lights; last year Los Angeles completed its own massive LED project, retrofitting 141,089 street lights with LED bulbs.

The city will spend $79 million on the replacement project. The energy and maintenance savings would mean the project pays for itself in six years, Mr. Bloomberg said, calling the effort a no-brainer.

When completed, New York's LED project will be the largest LED retrofit the United States

"With roughly a quarter-million street lights in our city, upgrading to more energy efficient lights is a large and necessary feat," Mayor Bloomberg said. "It will save taxpayers millions of dollars, move us closer to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals, and help us to continue reducing city government's day-to-day costs and improving its operations."

The DOT Commissioner said the new lights are an improvement beyond saving the city money. “These 250,000 new lights will redefine our roadways and neighborhoods, bringing in clearer, whiter and more attractive lights to our 6,000 miles of streets and 12,000 miles of sidewalks.”

“This will be change that you can change on every street and every sidewalk,” she said.

The new LED fixtures give off better light compared to what she called the “yellowish, almost horror movie-kind of light” provided by high pressure sodium bulbs.

During the press conference, Mayor Bloomberg admonished a reporter for expressing surprise after the Department of Transportation said the LED lights were American-made.

“You’re way behind; you’re reading your own press,” the mayor said, warning not to assume such high-technology innovations are imported from China.

“Our manufacturing industries have started to revive here and we’re exporting a lot… You shouldn’t be surprised. There’s no reason to think everything is made overseas.”

Mr. Bloomberg was half-right. After he departed, the Commissioner hoisted a box holding the sample fixture for the cameras, which still bore a sticker from the manufacturer, American Electric Lighting.

Assembled in Mexico,” the sticker said.

A spokesman for the DOT said the commissioner had used a prototype, and that the LEDs to be installed would be manufactured in the U.S.
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