Starting January 29, 2018, the City of Portland will will begin replacing all of its streetlights with new, energy-efficient LED light fixtures. LED streetlights offer several advantages over older lighting technologies:
- Energy Efficient -- LED lights can reduce electricity consumption for street lighting by 75%.
- Better Light -- LED lighting allows people to see colors more clearly, which makes it easier to recognize people and objects on the streets and sidewalks.
- Reduced Glare -- It is easy to aim LEDs to shine light where it should be and to avoid shining it where it is unwanted.
- Long Life -- LED lighting has an extremely long life which reduces overall maintenance costs.
City officials will hold a press conference at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, January 30 at the end of Austin Street in the Back Cove neighborhood to demo the installation of the new LED street lights. Crews will be working their way around the city, installing 250-350 lights per week with an estimated completion in May.
The City is specifying lights with a warm color temperature of 3000K to avoid the metallic blue light associated with some LEDs. This follows the recommendations of the International Dark Sky Association and the American Medical Association.
The project is made possible by the City’s recent acquisition of the streetlights from Central Maine Power. Portland is the first city in Maine to do so under the provisions of a state law enacted in 2013 that allows municipalities to purchase utility-owned street lighting equipment in their communities and to replace it with energy efficient LED lighting. City staff and partners from TEN Connected Solutions and Bernstein Shur worked with CMP on an agreement in conformance with PUC rules to transfer ownership to the City of the lamps, fixtures, and mast arms that attach the lights to the poles. The $497,000 cost to purchase the street lighting assets from CMP was allocated in the City’s FY2018 Capital Improvement Plan.
Buying the streetlights and converting them to LED will provide the City with a savings of more than $1 million annually. In the past, the City paid CMP a monthly fee for the use of each fixture in addition to the cost of electricity. This averaged about $1.2 million annually. Purchasing the lights and switching to energy efficient LEDs will reduce this cost to about $150,000 per year.
City Manager Jon Jennings said, “Converting the streetlights to LED has been a goal of the City of Portland for many years. I am pleased the City Council has been so supportive of this initiative that will improve lighting throughout the city, reduce costs, and serve as a platform for innovative technologies that will improve the lives of residents and visitors. I’m especially pleased that such a significant project offers financial savings that we can reinvest to make Portland a leader in smart city applications.”
Sustainability Coordinator Troy Moon added, “Converting our streetlights to LED is an important step that reduces the city’s carbon footprint. The new lights will reduce the City’s electricity consumption by 2.7 million kWh per year, which is about 8% of its total use. This offsets the burning of more than 4,600 barrels of oil.”
Installing the new lights kicks off phase one of the Streetlight Conversion/Smart City program approved by the City Council in October 2017. This part of the project includes $4 million for the replacement of all overhead street lights that are attached to utility poles throughout the city, and a variety of smart city technologies including public wi-fi locations, exterior lighting at City Hall, intelligent traffic signals at some key intersections, and electric vehicle charging stations. Phase two, also $4 million, includes additional upgrades to street lights, controls for all decorative lights, and additional smart city technologies including more public wi-fi locations, additional signal upgrades at key intersections, and environmental sensors.
The City’s lead partner in this project is TEN Connected Solutions of Pittsburgh, PA, which was selected from a pool of seven respondents to an RFP issued in October, 2016. Under their overall direction, many Maine businesses will participate in the streetlight conversion and deployment of smart city technologies. These include:
- Colby Company Engineering: assistance with lighting specifications and technical review
- Bernstein Shur: legal assistance
- Casco Bay Electric: Upgrading lighting in City-owned parking garages and replacing the existing street lighting equipment with new, City-owned equipment
- On Target: Replacing the existing street lighting equipment with new, City-owned equipment
- Revision Energy: Design and build several electric vehicle charging stations including solar charging for golf carts at Riverside Golf Course
- Redzone Wireless: Assisting with the design and construction of the public wi-fi network.
City Manager Jon Jennings noted, “The fact that so many local firms have the skills and expertise to implement key portions of this project underscores Portland’s ability to take on the challenges of the 21st century economy. For me, a key element of this project is to demonstrate the City’s readiness to partner with the private sector to implement innovative ideas.”