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Streetlight Replacement Project

The City's Public Works Department and Tacoma Public Utilities have launched a joint initiative to replace approximately 75% of Tacoma’s aging streetlights with new, energy efficient LED fixtures by the end of 2018.  

 

Nearly 75 Percent of Tacoma's Streetlights to be Replaced with LEDs 

As part of this project, approximately 75% (16,000 light fixtures) of all Tacoma area overhead streetlights will be upgraded to energy-efficient LED lights by the end of 2018. The existing fixtures, which are high-pressure, sodium currently account for 83% of the total energy used by all streetlights in the city.

Not every streetlight in the city will be upgraded at this time. The majority of the fixtures scheduled for replacement are either “cobra head” or “shoe-box” style (pictured below). Ornamental, flood and wall pack lights will not be converted to LEDs at this time.

 

Lights to be Replaced

 

 Picture of an Existing Cobra Head LightPicture of an Existing Shoe-Box Style Light

 

New Lights

  

New Residential LED FixtureNew Arterial Fixture

 

Project Timeline

  • Request for Bid (RFB) for materials – issued in June 2017.  Contract for materials was awarded to Leotek in August 2017.
  • Request for Bid for installation services – expect to issue RFB in August and award contract early fall 2017
  • Installation and replacement implementation– dates to be determined once the installation contract has been awarded. The goal is to begin the project in late 2017 and complete by the end of 2018.

 

Public Meeting Schedule

Below is a list of public meetings relating to this project that are currently on the schedule. 

 

Implementation Schedule and Interactive Map

View an interactive map that allows searching by address to find when (or if) streetlights are scheduled for replacement. Once installation begins, this map will be updated in real-time. 

 


Preliminary versions of the project schedule and maps are available below for anyone unable to access the interactive map above. Once installation begins, these documents will be updated on a weekly basis.
 
Project Schedule (PDF)
Neighborhood Zones Map (PDF)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

General

Why are the lights being replaced?

  • Cost savings: Most of the City’s streetlights are very old and inefficient.  The City spends almost $1 million every year just on electricity for street lights and traffic signals.  New LED fixtures will significantly lower our costs because they only use 25% - 35% of the power used by our existing street lights.

  • Safety: New LED lights allow much greater control over where light shines.  This will allow us to reduce glare, lower light pollution and better distribute light to maximize safety.

  • Energy Savings: We estimate this project will save 11,500 MWh per year and the 15-year Net Present Value (NPV) is $5.7 million. 

  • It looks like there are cobrahead fixtures in my neighborhood but they are NOT listed on the installation schedule.  Why?
    There are some streetlights that may appear to be a cobra or shoe box style that are not scheduled for replacement.  While they may look the same, these lights are actually structurally different and require additional retrofitting before they can be upgraded to LED. That is out of scope for this project.  It’s also important to note that the City has already installed several hundred LED’s. This project won’t replace existing LED fixtures.

  • What are the old street lights being replaced with?
    Energy efficient 3000K LEDs will be installed in residential and local areas. For higher speed arterial streets, 4000K LED fixtures will be installed to ensure adequate safety. 

Cost

How much is this project going to cost?
The capital cost to support this project is estimated at $5.5 million, which includes materials and installation and Washington State sales tax.

 

How is this being funded?
To enable the City of Tacoma to upgrade the streetlights through this initiative, TPU created a special “Streetlight” rate.

 

This rate applies specifically to LED streetlight fixtures and includes all capital recovery costs, electricity and administration of this project.   The 15 year net present value (NPV) in savings to the city is estimated to be $5.7 million and 11,500 MWh savings per year.

Schedule

When will the project be completed?
Installation is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter 2017 and projected to be completed by the end of 2018. We will continue to provide updates on the progress on this site as well as on mytpu.org/streetlights until the project is complete.

 

How do I know if the streetlights near my home or business will be replaced?

View an interactive map with the installation schedule by neighborhood.  If you are unable to access the map for any reason, a PDF of the map and schedule is also available. PDF schedules will be updated on a weekly basis.

Safety

Are LED lights harmful to my health or the environment?
Replacing old, high-pressure sodium lights with new LED fixtures should have no negative impact on health or the environment.  In fact, LED lights offer significant benefits including reduced energy use and less light-trespass.

 

I read that the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a report that excessive blue light emitted by LEDs is harmful to health and the environment.
In June 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) published an article on the potential environmental and health hazards associated with LED streetlights

 

The AMA article’s focus evaluated early LED installations with respect to glare and light trespass (light spreading to unintended areas), the potential impacts on human health and the environment and how best to minimize those impacts.  The AMA commended the energy efficiency and effectiveness of LED technology, but also urged cities to minimize the amount of blue-rich outside lighting and recommended the use of LEDs with a color temperature equal to or less than 3000K to minimize the amount of glare. 

 

The report failed to consider some of the significant benefits associated with various higher temperature lights in certain situations.  A study in Seattle documented how light color temperature can affect how far in advance drivers can detect objects.  That study found the best color temperature for night time object detection is around 4000K, approximately the same color temperature as moonlight.

  • Glare reduction – LED technology has significantly improved since the early installations used in the AMA study.  New LED technology provides much greater control over glare and lighting than early installations including how much, where and when light is dispersed).
  • Night vision – For high speed traffic areas, industry research suggests 3000K is insufficient to support optimal safety for drivers and pedestrians.  For higher speed areas, 4000K LED lighting improves object detection by 1.5 times that of 3000K fixtures.
  • Quantity of blue light – every streetlight emits some degree of blue light.  While the percentage of blue light emitted is higher in the new LED fixtures, the intensity is less than existing fixtures.  Normalized by intensity, the 4000K arterial LEDs will emit 12 – 17% less blue light than our existing high-pressure sodium fixtures.

LEDs provide the greatest ability to control where and when light is dispersed, how much is dispersed and at the optimal spectrum– more than any other technology available on the market. 

 

Will the City be installing any LEDs that go against the AMA recommendations?

 

3000K LEDs will be installed in all residential and local areas, which comply with the AMA recommendations.  In higher speed arterial streets, Public Works will be installing 4000K fixtures to ensure adequate safety.  After extensive research, Public Works found that 3000K lighting in high traffic areas did not meet minimal safety requirements for traffic and pedestrians.  It was determined that 4000K LED lights provide optimal safety in high speed arterials.  This will allow the City to:

  • Minimize glare through design and fixture
  • Increase night visibility and object detection at a distance
  • Provide lighting that emits less “blue light” than existing high-pressure sodium fixtures

Benefits of LED Lighting

Less light pollution: 

  • The dim-ability of LED technology allows us to control streetlight systems to only provide the level of illumination needed at any given time, which is nearly impossible with conventional streetlighting.  
  • LEDs allow for a high degree of control over where the light is directed, as opposed to conventional street lamps that shine light in all directions.
  • Many of our current lights broadcast light into the sky.  This type of light, called up-lighting, provides no benefit for streetlights that are 30 – 40 feet high and, in fact, actually creates visual problems for nocturnal animals.

Improved visibility:

  • LEDs provide greater control over the light distribution, creating more consistent light levels where needed.  This minimizes the amount of blue light emitted reducing glare.
  • LED lighting allows greater visibility at a distance for drivers, creating an extra safety margin by providing between 1.5 – 2 times further coverage than existing streetlights.
  • Because the new fixtures produce less total light, the new LED lights will actually emit less “blue light” than our existing high-pressure sodium light fixtures.

Less energy:

  • LEDs use 50 – 65% less energy than the fixtures to be replaced (high-pressure, sodium lights)

Lower costs:

  • Lower materials costs - LEDs are more efficient and last much longer than conventional streetlight lamps.
  • Lower utility costs- LEDs require less energy, thereby lowering monthly electricity costs
  • Lower maintenance costs - Fewer replacements means lower overall maintenance costs.

Improved safety and security: 

  • Fewer outages - longer life equipment means fewer streetlight outages, improving both safety and security.

Questions and Comments

For questions and comments visit the Streetlight Replacement Project TPU Site and fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Contact Us 

City Project Manager
Leigh Starr
(253) 591-5031
Email 

 

TPU Project Manager
Roger Peery 
(253) 502-8138
Email