Enlightening ideas Municipalities try out LED street lights to save money

A cobrahead street light with a mercury vapor bulb on Meadowcroft Lane off Rifle Range Road.

Mount Pleasant residents might notice a change in some street lights later this summer.

About 350 lights along Coleman Boulevard, Chuck Dawley Boulevard and Rifle Range Road will be retrofitted with LED fixtures.

It’s part of a nationwide push to save energy. Light-emitting diodes initially cost more than traditional street lights, but they can save a municipality hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, which is pushing the rapidly evolving technology around the country. LED lights give a more uniform white light, last longer and use less electricity.

North Charleston also is testing out LED street lights, and the city of Charleston is considering it.

Mount Pleasant will use $500,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (federal stimulus money) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program for its pilot program. The town is taking bids on fixtures, said.

The street lights in these neighborhoods were about ready to be replaced anyway, and mercury vapor bulbs can’t be used anymore since they were banned in 2005, according to the town. Most of the fixtures that are being replaced have mercury vapor bulbs, although some have metal halide and some high-pressure sodium bulbs.

The present fixtures are in four designs. There are traditional lamps with flat panels and hipped-roof-style covering (such as in Haborgate Shores off Rifle Range Road), acorn lanterns (around the Rifle Range Road traffic circle at Bowman Road and Oakhaven), cobrahead (Meadowcroft Lane off Rifle Range is an example) and NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association), which look like an inverted glass cup and can be seen along Vincent Drive. The traditional and acorn designs will be replaced with a traditional design. Cobraheads will replaced cobraheads and NEMAs.

S.C. Electric & Gas will install the fixtures. Then the utility will monitor them and decide what rate to charge for the electricity and maintenance.

North Charleston installed LED street lights along Weber Drive, a new road in an area slated for development off U.S. Highway 78 between Interstate 26 and Ladson Road, about six months ago, project manager Eileen Duffy said. It was a joint project between the city and Charleston County. It’s too early to estimate how much money the lights might save, she said.

The city has a contract for SCE&G to install 34 LED street lights along Emmett I. Davis Jr. Avenue, a new road near the North Charleston Coliseum and Tanger Outlet Boulevard. The money comes from the city’s franchise fees.

SCE&G should start installing the lights next week and have them in place by the end of the month, she said.

“This may be the future,” Duffy said. “The only way to find out if it’s something that will work for the city is to try it.”

Charleston has been negotiating with SCE&G, which decides how much to charge for lights, to see if switching to LED street lights would be worth it, said Parks Director Jerry Ebeling, who also handles street lights.

The city switched to LED lights in its parking garages about four years ago and has been pleased with the cost savings, he said.

Greenville replaced downtown mercury lights with LED lights last summer. It’s also a pilot project with federal stimulus money.

Los Angeles and New York are among the cities across the nation that are testing LED street lights.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553. said.

The street lights in these neighborhoods were about ready to be replaced anyway, and mercury vapor bulbs can’t be used anymore since they were banned in 2005, according to the town. Most of the fixtures that are being replaced have mercury vapor bulbs, although some have metal halide and some high-pressure sodium bulbs.

The present fixtures are in four designs. There are traditional lamps with flat panels and hipped-roof-style covering (such as in Haborgate Shores off Rifle Range Road), acorn lanterns (around the Rifle Range Road traffic circle at Bowman Road and Oakhaven), cobrahead (Meadowcroft Lane off Rifle Range is an example) and NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association), which look like an inverted glass cup and can be seen along Vincent Drive. The traditional and acorn designs will be replaced with a traditional design. Cobraheads will replaced cobraheads and NEMAs.

S.C. Electric & Gas will install the fixtures. Then the utility will monitor them and decide what rate to charge for the electricity and maintenance.

North Charleston installed LED street lights along Weber Drive, a new road in an area slated for development off U.S. Highway 78 between Interstate 26 and Ladson Road, about six months ago, project manager Eileen Duffy said. It was a joint project between the city and Charleston County. It’s too early to estimate how much money the lights might save, she said.

The city has a contract for SCE&G to install 34 LED street lights along Emmett I. Davis Jr. Avenue, a new road near the North Charleston Coliseum and Tanger Outlet Boulevard. The money comes from the city’s franchise fees.

SCE&G should start installing the lights next week and have them in place by the end of the month, she said.

“This may be the future,” Duffy said. “The only way to find out if it’s something that will work for the city is to try it.”

Charleston has been negotiating with SCE&G, which decides how much to charge for lights, to see if switching to LED street lights would be worth it, said Parks Director Jerry Ebeling, who also handles street lights.

The city switched to LED lights in its parking garages about four years ago and has been pleased with the cost savings, he said.

Greenville replaced downtown mercury lights with LED lights last summer. It’s also a pilot project with federal stimulus money.

Los Angeles and New York are among the cities across the nation that are testing LED street lights.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.