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LD+A The Magazine of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America

LED Testing & Application  

California Drives Toward New Streetlighting

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A comprehensive research project by the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC), part of the University of California, Davis, provides a few hints where street lighting is headed in the state of California. CLTC partnered with Chevron Energy Solutions to survey 212 cities encompassing 1.1 million streetlights. What follows are some of the broad findings from the study:

HPS dominates.
While 74 percent of the cities that responded to the survey rated energy efficiency as a “high” or “very high” priority, more than 76 percent of those cities’ streetlights still use high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. LEDs and induction sources currently lag at 2 and 3 percent respectively. The prevalence of old technology, however, reveals the potential of retrofits to increase energy savings across the state.

Ownership varies. The CLTC survey found that most cities own at least some of the streetlights within their city limits. The majority of the streetlights, 54 percent, are city-owned and city-maintained; 32 percent are utility-owned and utility-maintained; approximately 5 percent are city-owned and third-party maintained; and close to 5 percent is city-owned and maintained by a utility. (Ownership and maintenance were not reported for roughly 5 percent.)

Plans for Investment. Cities with a higher proportion of city-owned, city-maintained streetlights are significantly more likely to invest in advanced street lighting technologies, indicating most street lighting is poised for change. In fact, a number of the California cities surveyed are actively replacing streetlights or have plans to do so:

  • Haywood, CA: In addition to 70 new LED lights installed by the end of August 2011, the City of Hayward will be replacing 157 existing HPS lights with 510 new LED lights by the end of the 2012 calendar year.
  • Ventura, CA: The city is in the process of retrofitting all 500 city-owned lights from HPS to LED through a California Energy Commission grant. Replacements will be done during the course of the 2011-12 fiscal year.
  • Redlands, CA: Redlands is interested in funding for the conversion of city streetlights from HPS to LED.
  • Hermosa Beach, CA: A representative of city reported being interested in lighting controls and dimmable fixtures and would like to know about local cities using them for street lighting.


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