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LED street lighting

The city is beginning a full-scale transition from traditional street lights to LED lights.

Flipping an oversized, symbolic switch, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced the completion of a yearlong, citywide effort to replace 27,000 street light fixtures with LED lighting.

Replacing the aging street lights with LED technology is projected to reduce the city's utility budget by 38%, but its benefits go beyond taxpayer savings, Gaylor Baird said.

"We will also see reduced maintenance costs due to the longevity of LED lighting," the mayor said. "The lights improve safety by offering better visibility for drivers. And this project is a big step in our ongoing efforts to make Lincoln more sustainable." 

Mayor Chris Beutler's administration began the $12.2 million replacement last year, a move that followed the decision by Lincoln Electric System to use LED technology in new street lights brought online beginning in 2012.

Last October, crews began the citywide conversion effort starting with arterial streets in north Lincoln.

Savings on energy costs and maintenance over the next decade will recoup the city's investment, according to city officials.

The city paid for the initiative by borrowing from its cash reserve, with the plan to repay the fund with 2.5% interest.  

After some neighborhoods had LED lights put in, some residents complained about the brightness of the new bulbs, so crews returned to dial back their luminance.

On arterial streets, the city installed 4,000-Kelvin LEDs, and 3,000-Kelvin fixtures were put in neighborhoods.

The new lamps are expected to last at least 10 years and may well last 25 years, according to project officials. 

Lamps on the old street light fixtures lasted about four years, and the photocell, which senses when the light should be on, needed replacement every four years, too, said Jeff Hlavac, manager of transmission and distribution at LES. 

Schneider Electric, the contractor on the project, estimates the conversion removes 3 million pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year, equivalent to removing 1,200 cars from the road or planting 180,000 trees.

Gaylor Baird also proclaimed Wednesday Energy Efficiency Day, encouraging residents to practice smarter energy use and support clean energy goals.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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