The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that Seattle City Light will lead a new national effort to promote the installation of energy-efficient light emitting diode (LED) street lights. The Municipal Solid State Street Lighting Consortium will share information, performance results, and residents' feedback about LED street lights with participating communities from coast to coast.

"Interest in LED street lighting is surging across the country, fueled in part by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding for municipal energy-efficiency improvements," says DOE Program Manager Jim Brodrick. "As communities look to this technology to cut energy consumption, reduce their carbon footprint, and lower operating costs, this national consortium will share valuable information so they can make smarter, more informed decisions about the equipment they buy."

"On behalf of DOE, Seattle City Light will lead this national effort to disseminate best practices and lessons learned, building a repository of valuable field experience and data that will significantly accelerate the learning curve for buying and implementing high quality, energy-efficient LED street lights," continues Brodrick.

During the next year, City Light will be responsible for recruiting at least 50 other communities to join the consortium and share their experiences through national and regional meetings, Webcasts, and Web-based discussion forums. The DOE is providing $200,000 in funding for consortium efforts. Edward Smalley, City Light's manager of streetlight engineering, will serve as director for the consortium.

With more than 34 million street lights in use across the United States, DOE estimates that promoting the use of LED technology has the potential to save communities more than $750 million a year in energy costs alone.

Seattle will install 5,000 LED streetlights this year and a total of 40,000 during the next five years.

"This is a good step to upgrade our infrastructure, to save money and conserve energy," says Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. "I commend Seattle City Light on their leadership."

"Providing our neighborhoods with adequate, reliable lighting is absolutely critical," adds Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chairman of the Council's Energy, Technology, and Civil Rights Committee. "It's a matter of public safety, as well as smart, energy-efficient business practice."

City Light reviewed more than 100 models of LED street light fixtures and tested nine as part of pilot projects in the Capitol Hill, West Seattle, and South Park neighborhoods to decide what equipment to use. In surveys, 85% of respondents approved of the new lights.

"In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first large U.S. utility to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions and has maintained that status for five years," says Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. "Adding LED street lights to our system will not only lower energy consumption, but also reduce the number of vehicle trips required for maintenance because the equipment lasts three times longer than current street lights."