Ann Arbor green lights LED streetlight pilot project

LED street lights are starting to spread from downtown Ann Arbor into the city's neighborhoods.

The city has recently partnered with DTE Energy to perform a pilot project for neighborhood LED streetlights. The two institutions will split the $44,800 bill to install 58 cobrahead LED streetlights in the student-housing-dominated neighborhood just south of the University of Michigan.

"Some students had previously raised concerns about the quality of streetlighting," says Andrew Brix, energy programs manager for the city of Ann Arbor. "We had been looking for an opportunity to try out LEDs in an area where DTE owned the lights. This worked out perfect."

DTE will begin installing the lights later this spring and expects to have them in place and operating by this summer. The city hopes to determine the viability of LEDs in neighborhood streetlights within the next year or two through this pilot project.

The city began installing LEDs into its decorative downtown streetlights a few years ago. So far 95 percent of the ultra-energy-efficient lights have been installed with the rest to go in within the next few weeks. LEDs are more expensive than normal incandescent bulbs, but city officials expect to recoup those costs through electricity savings within about four years.

LED (short for light-emitting diode) lights are commonly used in traffic and tail lights. They require less than half of the energy of a normal incandescent light bulb and last five times the normal two-year lifespan of an incandescent.

"It's clear that LED is the direction we're heading in for streetlights as a nation," Brix says. "It's not a question of if as much as when."

Source: Andrew Brix, energy programs manager for the city of Ann Arbor
Writer: Jon Zemke
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