Monday - Jun 18, 2018

City of Asheville streetlight LED upgrades begin this week

The City of Asheville’s push to increase energy efficiency and reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint takes a big step forward this week with the replacement of street light bulbs in two neighborhoods with LED lights. The LED (light-emitting diode) lights, use dramatically less energy than standard bulbs, which means a significant reduction in energy costs to the city.

Some 900 street lights, primarily in Asheville’s River District and Kenilworth neighborhoods, are being replaced during the first phase of the push, and will represent $45,000 in annual energy costs. Installation is expected to be complete by the end of June.

Installing LED streetlights

Installation of 900 LED street lights in Asheville's River District and Kenilworth began Monday.

Maggie Ullman, Energy Coordinator with the city’s Office of Sustainability, says the upgrade to LED street lights represents one of the most exciting developments since the office was created three years ago to examine ways to reduce the City of Asheville’s energy use. And, she says, it reaffirms Asheville’s role as a leader in carbon footprint reduction.

“This is is a very big deal for Asheville. It is a highly visible step that will represent real savings.” Ullman said. “This first phase will represent the largest municipal LED installation in North Carolina.”

In 2009, Asheville City Council unanimously approved using Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to fund efficiency initiatives, including the first phase of the streetlight replacement. The revolving fund will roll energy savings back into the city’s green and efficiency initiatives.

Council and staff are currently working on opportunities for the second phase, which would represent a complete LED replacement for all 9,000 city streetlights and result in more that $600,000 in annual savings.

Holding an LED street light

Richard Grant, Administrator of Public Works Services, holds one of the new LED street lights.

The Office Of Sustainability and the Community Relations Division have been working for the past several months to coordinate the replacement launch, including working with partners Progress Energy and BetaLED and getting word to neighborhoods included in the phase one installation. That outreach includes making announcements at community meetings and in neighborhood newsletters. The city has also set up an information page on its website with frequently asked questions and answers about the LED upfitting.

Alongside energy savings, the new LED light bulbs may have a different appearance than standard lighting, especially if the older bulbs have aged and dimmed. The primary difference will be the color, which have a a crisp white/blue tint. But, Ullman says, the lights meet all local, state and federal lighting safety requirements.

The installations will also conform to a 2006 lighting ordinance approved by City Council designed to reduce glare and light pollution. See that ordinance here.

The LED street light replacement is the latest in a list of green and energy efficient initiatives designed to reduce the City of Asheville’s energy use and carbon footprint. Last year, the city completed an energy efficient lighting retrofit for City Hall expected to save $15,000 annually. Click here to see more sustainability initiatives and successes.

  1. greg lewis

    May 10, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Energy savings is great, but has anyone figured the return on investment? In other words does the high initial cost exceed the possible lifetime savings, as was the case with the new hybrid city busses.

  2. Brett Mansfield

    May 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    To Greg Lewis
    “Council and staff are currently working on opportunities for the second phase, which would represent a complete LED replacement for all 9,000 city streetlights and result in more that $600,000 in annual savings.”

    To Everyone else. If the city applied had the same idea with libraries and such with “buying a brick” to the telephone posts I’m sure people would be up for that. I dunno if this is a childish idea but I personally think it would work [=
    But this is most definitely exciting news!

  3. Brian Riddle

    July 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    It’s great to see Ashville taking steps towards lowering the towns impact on our environment! If only more areas would follow in the efforts of cohesive environmental initiatives. This is really going to pay off in the long run!

  4. led tube

    July 9, 2011 at 3:45 am

    I would like to see more and more LED lights replacement projects carried out, as only in this way, we can finally find out if led lights are capable of what they have been claimed to be.

  5. Karen Vickers

    July 29, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Any chance we could “opt out’ of having any light at all? The light on my corner had been burned out for years, and my neighbors and I really liked it that way. Can I bring a signed petition and have it turned off? Even more savings on electricity.

  6. autumn pittman

    December 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I’m all for lowering carbon footprint and saving $ at the same time, but man are these things bright! I was unaware of the new street light efforts until today, when I came home to my normally dimly lit dead end street to find it illuminated bright as day! Talk about light pollution! The streetlamp is positioned directly in front of my house and the amount of light is ridiculous. Iam going to have to buy blackout curatins or something so that it doesnt keep me up at night the way it penetrates my mini-blinds. I’m with the guy who posted before me, can me & my neighbors opt out if we are in agreement?

  7. Richie Whitson

    January 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    YES! I agree with postings 5 and 6. How can my street opt out of this?!?!?! The idea is great, and I am all for saving $ and resources, but the installation of the light on my street has RUINED any chance of enjoying my front porch or yard in the evening, and I too will have to purchase some black out curtains for my living room. No light at all is better than this. Its miserable and intruding. These belong on urban city streets, not in front of private homes.


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