All City Streetlights to Switch to LED
Posted on 01/18/2018

This year Newcastle will join other area cities in installing energy efficient LED bulbs in all streetlights throughout the city. Funding for the conversion will come from the state's Relight Washington Program. City streetlights will consume less energy resulting in lower costs and a reduction in carbon gas emissions. LEDs provide whiter light with better (more natural) color rendering. In addition, LEDs have a more uniform light distribution that further improves visibility and enhances safety.

A study commissioned by the state found that cost, energy and environmental benefits of LED streetlights returned twice the installation expense over 15 years. The main challenge in conversion is often the initial capital costs, an obstacle the Relight Washington Program essentially removes for small cities like Newcastle.

In order for all the streetlights in Newcastle to qualify for program funding, the city had to assume responsibility for all streetlights in the city. Currently Newcastle pays for the operation and maintenance of only 274 of the total 920 streetlights. The cost for over half are paid for by private organizations like homeowners' associations or through a streetlight charge on Coal Creek Utility District bills. Once the conversion is final, it will be the city’s responsibility to pay all streetlight costs, which will come to about $73,000 a year. At this time, there is no additional revenue to fund the new obligation.

Newcastle's City Council approved the assumption of streetlights in late 2017 during budget discussions. Councilmembers who favored moving forward wanted to realize the full benefit of the Relight Washington Program and viewed uniformity in billing as a way to create equity for all residents. The conversion to LED streetlights will occur in several phases which are expected to begin in mid-2018. Look for more information on the city's website in the coming months.

Contact Public Works Director Jeff Brauns at jeffb@newcastlewa.gov for more information.

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