Commonly known as LEDs, these lights will emit brighter light and last longer, saving the city thousands of dollars in power costs. Oakley is currently accepting proposals to convert half of the its lighting to LED with the aid of a grant awarded by the California Energy Commission (CEC).
“LED lights use about 50 to 60 percent of what a regular light bulb uses, so you’re cutting your energy bill practically in half,” said Oakley Assistant Engineer Allen Bourgeois. “These lights last longer and require less maintenance. They shine out a brighter light, and we can better aim this light so that the light is covering the streets and sidewalks and not overflowing onto the houses.”
As part of the federal stimulus package, the CEC received $49.6 million, which it used to create the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Cities were awarded grants based on their population size. Oakley fell into the 35,000 population bracket and was awarded $168,314. Cities were given an array of options for how to use the money to create a more conservation-friendly destination. Oakley opted to convert its outdoor lighting to LED lights to save energy.
According to City Manager Bryan Montgomery, the grant allows the city to launch a comprehensive LED conversion project. Approximately 300 cobra-style street lights will be converted once a contractor is selected early next year. Since the city owns about 500 street lights – the rest belong to PG&E – the city will be looking into other grants and funding programs to support the completion of the conversion.
Bourgeois said once a contractor is selected, the process of converting the lights should take only a few weeks. The lights the city plans to use are Leotek Green Cobra GCA1, which emit a brighter light that other LED options. Rather than casting a pale blue light on city streets, the lights requested by the city will shine a warm yellow-orange glow similar to moonlight.
“We (the city) did a lot of research about the conversion, and a lot of cities are going in the same direction with this type of lighting,” Bourgeois said. “We’ve heard a lot of good things about it, so we’ll be on the cutting edge of a statewide movement to conserve energy. This will be a positive benefit to the city and the state’s energy supply.”
The CEC estimates that the grant program will help cities save 61.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Oakley will be accepting proposals for the conversion project through Monday, Dec. 13. The City Council is expected to award a contract in January of 2011.