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Subject:   SEATTLE CITY LIGHT TESTING ENERGY-EFFICIENT STREETLIGHTS
For Immediate Release:   
3/19/2009  1:53:00 PM
For More Information Contact:


Pilot Project Will Test Variety of Products and Measure Public Response

SEATTLE - Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco announced a pilot project to test up to six types of LED (light emitting diode) streetlights. The LED lights use much less energy than the existing high-pressure sodium streetlights, which could mean substantial savings for the utility over time and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Through a contract signed with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, Seattle City Light is replacing up to 100 streetlights at several locations on Capitol Hill and South Park. The sites were selected to provide a variety of lighting levels, adjusted for residential and commercial areas.

Prior to the streetlights being replaced, the existing fixtures are cleaned, focused and given new bulbs using the current technology; then the quality of their illumination is closely measured. After the new streetlights are installed, those same measurements will be repeated for several weeks. City Light also will seek the public’s input on the quality of the light and any concerns about color, glare, and other considerations.

LEDs are highly efficient light sources and require much less electricity than current streetlights. Unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don't have a filament that will burn out, and they don't get especially hot. The heat produced by current streetlights is a waste of energy because it does not create any additional light. LEDs generate very little heat, relatively speaking, with a much higher percentage of the electrical power going directly to providing light.

While LEDs are currently more expensive than incandescent lights, their lower operating cost, longer life and reduction in carbon emissions could mean substantial savings in the future, Carrasco said.

LED streetlights can last 15 years, which means the utility would not have to spend money to replace burned out lights as often and would have to offset less greenhouse gas emissions to maintain its status as the only large carbon-neutral utility in the country.

"Our hope is that these new streetlights will align closely with our overall conservation goals as captured in our Five-Year Conservation Action Plan," Carrasco said. "If these tests prove the new streetlights meet city illumination standards and budget availability, City Light will begin to schedule replacement of all the utility’s 84,000 streetlights."

Seattle City Light first starting investigating LED lighting in 2007 with a nine-light demonstration on Interlake Avenue in North Seattle. The success of that small project encouraged the utility to look more closely at the technology. This pilot project is part of the Department of Energy’s Solid-State Lighting GATEWAY Demonstrations program, designed to showcase emerging LED lighting products.

City Light will be testing six different brands of LED lights during the pilot. Three of those will be manufactured in the United States.

For more information about City Light’s LED Pilot Project, contact Vicki Marsten at (206) 386-1630 or vicki.marsten@seattle.gov.



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