Energy Efficiency

Published on July 30th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

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Anchorage, Alaska To Install 16,000 LED Streetlights

July 30th, 2008 by  

LED Bulb

Another win for LED bulbs: Anchorage, Alaska plans to replace 16,000 streetlight fixtures—a quarter of all the streetlight fixtures in the city—with LEDs. The new streetlights will use 50% less energy than current fixtures, leading Anchorage to potential savings of $360,000 each year. The city has invested $2.2 million in the plan.

Since Anchorage has 85 days a year with less than 8 hours of sunlight, energy efficiency initiatives are critical to the city’s survival. With other programs currently in the works, they’re on the right track.

Cree, a US-based LED component manufacturer, started the LED City program in 2007. The initiative is designed to test the economic, environmental, and usage benefits of LED lighting in cities around the world.

Other cities that have already committed to the LED City program include Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto, Ontario; Tianjin, China, and Torraca, Italy.

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • josephdoakes

    Will the LED’s burn hot enough to melt the snow that will accumulate on the lights? Will they have to pay someone to clean the lights?

  • Your blog is so informative

  • Your blog is so informative

  • Pingback: Lighting Science Corporation Blazes a New Trail for LED Streetlights : CleanTechnica()

  • steven morizio

    on turning off lighting there are state and fed laws that govern how much lighting is needed per square foot.on led and cold weather the led heat sink on top will be between 30-50c when running.heat is the killer for led so the colder it is outside the better it is for the lights.

  • Tom Borges

    The true white LED is not yet a reality… what is being used to produce “white” light is a blue LED and a secondary lense coated with phosphorous to give the appearance of “white lite…” The true white LED is estimated to be about one fifth of the wattage currently required by the faux white LED… When it hits the marketplace, there will be massive retrofitting and a fond farewell to the now widely used energy efficient T8 lamp and ballast…

  • Timothy Harris

    As much as I am for energy efficiency, this is a very bad idea that was obviously not well thought through. Because LED lights are a low energy and low heat alternative to conventional traffic lights, they are perfect for many cities closer to the equator. However, when used in northern cities, such as any city in Alaska, they have a fatal flaw. They do not produce sufficient heat to melt snow and ice which forms on the surface of the light. This may result in large balls of snow and ice which may produce little or no light

  • Timothy Harris

    As much as I am for energy efficiency, this is a very bad idea that was obviously not well thought through. Because LED lights are a low energy and low heat alternative to conventional traffic lights, they are perfect for many cities closer to the equator. However, when used in northern cities, such as any city in Alaska, they have a fatal flaw. They do not produce sufficient heat to melt snow and ice which forms on the surface of the light. This may result in large balls of snow and ice which may produce little or no light

  • Robbie

    If they are using 50% less electricity by installing LED lights, I’d like to know what they were using before. They could use the same budget to convert at least twice as many fixtures to low pressure sodium, which are still far more efficient than LEDs. That way they’d save even more on their electricity bill.

  • Robbie

    If they are using 50% less electricity by installing LED lights, I’d like to know what they were using before. They could use the same budget to convert at least twice as many fixtures to low pressure sodium, which are still far more efficient than LEDs. That way they’d save even more on their electricity bill.

  • LEDs for outdoor lighting is some sort of bizarre. There are more efficient plasma bulbs that can be used for this applications.

    The LEDs are a good way to save money anyway.

  • LEDs for outdoor lighting is some sort of bizarre. There are more efficient plasma bulbs that can be used for this applications.

    The LEDs are a good way to save money anyway.

  • Tony

    Also remember that there will be snow on the ground. I believe that the white stuff will reflect the light pretty good. So these LED’s may not produce the same amt of light but it will be more than enough to do the job… As for not needing street lights. I suppose you can see the moose walking around… They are pretty dang big.

  • Tony

    Also remember that there will be snow on the ground. I believe that the white stuff will reflect the light pretty good. So these LED’s may not produce the same amt of light but it will be more than enough to do the job… As for not needing street lights. I suppose you can see the moose walking around… They are pretty dang big.

  • Dan

    Is this a joke?

    Anchorage could have saved even more money by not doing anything at all.

    Anchorage switched all their street lights from mercury vapor to sodium vapor about 10 years ago. So it’s probably safe to say they’ll want to change them all to plasma or whatever the next greatest thing is in another 10 years or less. If they’ve already spent 2 million on the LEDs, which will only save an estimated 400K$ per year it’s probably safe to say they’ll spend another 2 million getting them all installed. According to my modest estimate, it would take 10 years just to recover the expense of the switch. But of course We’ll already be spending money on switching to something else by then.

  • Dan

    Is this a joke?

    Anchorage could have saved even more money by not doing anything at all.

    Anchorage switched all their street lights from mercury vapor to sodium vapor about 10 years ago. So it’s probably safe to say they’ll want to change them all to plasma or whatever the next greatest thing is in another 10 years or less. If they’ve already spent 2 million on the LEDs, which will only save an estimated 400K$ per year it’s probably safe to say they’ll spend another 2 million getting them all installed. According to my modest estimate, it would take 10 years just to recover the expense of the switch. But of course We’ll already be spending money on switching to something else by then.

  • Bryan G

    Austin, Texas is already using LED technology in, not just streetlamps, but also government buildings and other structures. This initiative is in addition to an amazing array of other programs to hopefully create one of the greenest, and energy efficiant cities in America. I don’t even live in Texas, but I admire Austin’s work. You can visit Austin’s home page to see more.

  • Bryan G

    Austin, Texas is already using LED technology in, not just streetlamps, but also government buildings and other structures. This initiative is in addition to an amazing array of other programs to hopefully create one of the greenest, and energy efficiant cities in America. I don’t even live in Texas, but I admire Austin’s work. You can visit Austin’s home page to see more.

  • Robert

    “energy efficiency initiatives are critical to the city’s survival.”

    I don’t think street lights are going to bankrupt a state that’s so rich it has no income tax, no sales tax in Anchorage, and pays every citizen around $2000 a year just for living here. You make it sound like we’re barely scraping by.

  • Robert

    “energy efficiency initiatives are critical to the city’s survival.”

    I don’t think street lights are going to bankrupt a state that’s so rich it has no income tax, no sales tax in Anchorage, and pays every citizen around $2000 a year just for living here. You make it sound like we’re barely scraping by.

  • pete

    I think this is a bad idea the cost saving when taking in to account the initial investments is minimal. Rememeber LED’s especially of white light type don’t last forever rough life span is 10 years. Also what about all the extra materials in manufacturing and wiring together the LED’s not to mention the power regulating circuitry. Surely this adds up to less environmentally friendly.

  • pete

    I think this is a bad idea the cost saving when taking in to account the initial investments is minimal. Rememeber LED’s especially of white light type don’t last forever rough life span is 10 years. Also what about all the extra materials in manufacturing and wiring together the LED’s not to mention the power regulating circuitry. Surely this adds up to less environmentally friendly.

  • Ross

    Turning off the lights during the night time would be a bad idea. We only get about 8 hours of sunlight during the winter months. Add in winter conditions with no street lighting, tow truck drivers would have a field day.

  • Ross

    Turning off the lights during the night time would be a bad idea. We only get about 8 hours of sunlight during the winter months. Add in winter conditions with no street lighting, tow truck drivers would have a field day.

  • josephdoakes

    Will the LED’s burn hot enough to melt the snow that will accumulate on the lights? Will they have to pay someone to clean the lights?

  • I would prefer to see streets not be lit. We don’t need the light pollution or the power usage.

  • I would prefer to see streets not be lit. We don’t need the light pollution or the power usage.

  • Sam

    Agreed. Even just reducing the qty of street lights we have lit would help. I don’t think our energy situation will become dire anytime soon…

  • Sam

    Agreed. Even just reducing the qty of street lights we have lit would help. I don’t think our energy situation will become dire anytime soon…

  • Ariel Schwartz

    Sam – I think turning lights off at night is definitely the best strategy, but getting people to agree to that would certainly be a feat (at least until our energy situation becomes even more dire).

  • Sam

    Great post.

    We’ve written about the same issue a couple of times now, originally here, http://www.dumpitinthepump.com/index.php/environment/burning-lights-burning-energy-burning-planet/

    Sounds like a step in the right direction to use LED lights in major cities’ street lights. CREE mentions environmental benefits, but obviously only related to reduced air pollution.

    I wonder if the best strategy is to just turn more lights OFF at night. This would reduce air pollution, and help reduce light pollution.

  • Sam

    Great post.

    We’ve written about the same issue a couple of times now, originally here, http://www.dumpitinthepump.com/index.php/environment/burning-lights-burning-energy-burning-planet/

    Sounds like a step in the right direction to use LED lights in major cities’ street lights. CREE mentions environmental benefits, but obviously only related to reduced air pollution.

    I wonder if the best strategy is to just turn more lights OFF at night. This would reduce air pollution, and help reduce light pollution.

  • David Anderson

    I’m going to miss the phrase “incandescent glow”

  • Jim Moss

    What a great idea!

  • Jim Moss

    What a great idea!

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