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30 January 2008


Austin joins LED City program

The City of Austin has joined the LED City program, an international community of government and industry parties initiated by LED maker Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA to evaluate, deploy and promote LED lighting for municipal infrastructure. Austin is the fourth city to join the program following Raleigh, NC (last February), Toronto, Canada (July) and Ann Arbor, MI (October), in which cities evaluate and deploy LED lighting technology across their municipal infrastructures. According to the US Department of Energy, 22% of electricity used in the USA powers lighting.

In December, the City of Austin (the capital of Texas) and Austin Energy (the USA’s 10th largest community-owned electric utility) retrofitted a floor of the One Texas Center Parking Garage with 47W LED fixtures from Beta LED (a brand of Beta Lighting of Sturtevant, WI). LED fixtures have also been installed in a hallway at Austin Energy headquarters, in streetlights on Barton Springs, in the Palmer Events Center marquee sign and in the water fountain at the new Palmer Events Center Park. Additional test installations are planned throughout the city, including a portion of the lights surrounding the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Austin Energy aims to install LED lighting throughout the city.

“One of the workhorses in the city’s lighting inventory is the 250W High Pressure Sodium [HPS] cobra-head roadway fixture. We plan to evaluate LED solutions that have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 47-90% over traditional lighting solutions,” says mayor Will Wynn. “Just by retrofitting 5000 streetlights – a mere portion of all of the streetlights within the city – the city could realize savings of up to $500,000 a year. And that doesn’t include additional maintenance and labor cost savings if we won’t be sending out a worker in a boom truck an additional 6-7 times just to change a light bulb,” he adds.

“The total wattage of the LED garage light installation is about 30% below the allowable wattage as required by the Energy Code Allowance. This represents a saving of $6795 a year in utility costs,” says Wynn. “Because LEDs typically last 5-7 times longer than the prior fixture bulbs, the city anticipates it could achieve an additional savings of $27,000 in replacement lamp costs over the life of the LEDs.” The combined annualized savings to the city could be $10,178 per year with a simple payback of 6.5 years. “This lighting strategy is part of our efforts to achieve Energy Star and LEED Accreditation for City of Austin buildings,” adds Wynn.

“Austin Energy has a $17m per year rebate program that encourages commercial and home energy customers to purchase and use products that provide significant energy savings,” says Roger Duncan, Austin Energy’s interim general manager. “Our LED lighting rebate of $300 per-kilowatt-of-capacity-reduced aims to cover about 30% of the upfront cost of LEDs to help businesses explore the benefits of this new technology.”

In 2003, the City of Austin retrofitted over 5200 traffic signals and 3700 pedestrian signals with LEDs. The wattage of the traffic signals was reduced from 135W to 11-15W each (a 90% reduction). The award-winning retrofit has realized a savings of 7.25m kW-hr per year and removed 830kW of demand load from the city grid. The city estimates that it has saved taxpayers $1.4m per year plus additional maintenance and labor savings.

See related items:

Ann Arbor joins LED City initiative

Toronto joins LED City initiative

Cree and Raleigh launch ‘LED City’ municipal lighting initiative

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