Lighting the Way for Next-Generation Streetlight Efficiency

By Redaccion
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With electric-powered devices at our fingertips, it’s hard to imagine when electricity wasn’t readily accessible. Less than 150 years ago, the dawn of electricity first began transforming our way of life, paving the way for today’s developed world. One of the earliest uses of electricity was to illuminate communities with public streetlights, replacing traditional candles with the revolutionary lightbulb.

Now, streetlights are modernizing cities across California, again — symbolizing the next generation of electric transformation.

“Southern California Edison has a historic tie to street lighting, and it continues to be an important part of our business,” said John King, SCE streetlight project manager. “These lights remain a tremendous benefit in our communities.”

Today, SCE owns and operates about 450,000 city streetlights across its 50,000-square-mile service area, providing safe and reliable light to both pedestrians and motorists. SCE’s LS-1 Option E streetlight replacement program retrofits existing fixtures with new LED lighting technology. The upgrade is simple: SCE partners with local city governments to identify lighting needs and preferences, then SCE crews work to install new LED lights and fixtures.

Once installed, the LED upgrades improve nighttime visibility, contribute instant cost savings and energy conservation and can reduce the city’s long-term carbon footprint. The new LED fixtures use two-thirds less energy than before the upgrades.

“These new LED lights offer superior optics by placing the light in very specific patterns where the light is intended to be, and this creates a much safer lighting environment,” said King. “The LED technology is classified as ‘dark sky compliant,’ meaning they help with light pollution, make colors more vibrant and improve the ability to see clearly overnight.”

The city of Camarillo is one of 210 communities that experienced instant improvements after partnering with SCE on the streetlight upgrades. Every night from dusk to dawn, about 4,500 SCE-owned streetlights operate around the community. After being retrofitted with the new fixtures, this public good saved roughly 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of energy and more than $300,000 in bill savings in only its first two years. For those involved, the savings pale in comparison only to the improved public safety now afforded to residents.

“This project held immense importance for the city in ensuring public safety,” said Roger Pichardo, senior management analyst with the City Manager’s office, who oversaw the retrofit project. “The collaboration with SCE was excellent, making it a seamless endeavor. SCE crews worked efficiently, and we successfully completed the entire project within two months.”

Since the program launched in 2016, SCE has replaced over 330,000 streetlights and intends to continue until all communities in its service area can benefit from the LED technology. With each new light fixture estimated to last up to 20 years, the program is like resetting the clock and kickstarting the future today.

“For all our existence, SCE has placed a real emphasis on managing, operating and maintaining streetlights for each and every one of our communities,” said King. “We take it very seriously and we’re committed to bringing this positive change to our customers.”