Mayor plans to replace residential streetlights

Mayor Greg Nickels announced today that Seattle will use federal stimulus funds to begin replacing all 40,000 residential streetlights in Seattle with energy- and cost-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) technology.

Seattle is the first Washington city to finalize its stimulus plan for the new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, paving the way for $6.1 million in funding for a variety of energy conservation programs.

“From replacing streetlights to helping our residents cut their energy bills, we will use these funds to make a difference in people’s lives," said Nickels in a statement. "The reason I advocated so hard for this federal program is that it will help our residents save energy and money, while creating jobs in Seattle."

The $6.1 million in block grants, part of a $3.2 billion Department of Energy program, is expected to create 76 new clean energy jobs.  This funding helps implement Nickels’ Green Building Capital Initiative, an aggressive effort to reduce energy use in buildings by 20 percent citywide.  The federal funds will accelerate Seattle City Light’s ambitious five-year conservation plan and install energy efficiency products in residences and small businesses.

The city will invest $1.5 million in a revolving loan fund for residential retrofit projects, and will develop an energy performance score to measure home energy use, similar to an MPG rating for cars.

“Maximizing efficiency in our built environment is a cost-effective strategy to reduce our carbon footprint," said Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin. "In light of current economic conditions, this investment is also timely because it will cut future energy costs while conserving energy.”

“We have tested LED streetlights in our neighborhoods and they work," said council member Bruce Harrell, chair of the energy and technology committee. "With these federal funds, we can now bring energy-saving lighting to more Seattle neighborhoods and I predict many other cities will follow
our lead."

The full transition to replace streetlights with LED lights will take four to six years. LED lights use much less energy than the existing high-pressure sodium streetlights. Unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don’t have filaments that will burn out, and they don’t get especially hot, which means a much higher percentage of the electrical power goes directly to providing light.

“Seattle will use some of our funds to test initiatives that we hope will become national standards and models,” Nickels said. “We are already a national leader in conservation and climate protection, and with the leadership of President Obama, the U.S. can become an international leader.”

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.