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LED streetlight conversion a winner


The Lake Oswego Citizens Budget Committee voted unanimously to fund Phase 2A of the LED streetlight conversion in the May 8 budget meeting. The committee was very impressed with the savings generated in Phase 1 and saw that Phase 2A would result in equivalent savings. As Dave Berg, Chairman of the Budget Committee, said: “You are earning much better on these lights than you would earn in the state investment pool or putting it into other returns that don’t have a payback.”

The return on investment for switching out the streetlights for Phase 1 was originally estimated to be approximately 400 percent over 20 years. But because the project is finishing in this fiscal year, not next, and under budget, the current return on investment is calculated to be more than 600 percent over the next 20 years.

What this means is that almost the entire Phase 2A expense will be covered by this year’s savings from Phase 1. Savings on electricity costs ($70,000). Savings on bulb replacements ($15,000). And savings on finishing the project six months early ($50,000).

The Budget Committee was told that the Phase 2A could be completed for an additional $200,000, which, if you apply the real savings from Phase 1, now meant they only needed to find an additional $65,000. And happily, the committee found the funds to carry out Phase 2A without taking any funds away from street maintenance.

When Phase 2A is complete, approximately two-thirds of the city will be covered by the new LED streetlights. These streetlights are not only more cost effective, but they also produce better lighting. As the Budget Committee joked, after viewing pictures of Kerr Parkway before and after the conversion to LEDs, “Now you can see the potholes!”

Check out the quality of lighting yourself on Kerr Parkway which is due for resurfacing this summer.

As Lake Oswego makes its way through a backlog of street maintenance and replaces its streetlights with LEDs, our streets will become much safer. This is a win for everyone.

Anthony Hooper, the city’s project manager for the streetlight conversion, said that he recommended holding off on converting the remaining third of the city’s streetlights until the price of the fixtures needed for that phase come down in price, which should be in the next few years.

Converting the streetlights to LEDs is a great example of triple-bottom lines benefits: Economically, it saves money; for the environment, it reduces our energy usage thus reducing carbon pollution; and for the community, our streets are safer.

Anthony and his team are to be commended for a job well done! And a big round of applause to our City Council and the Budget Committee for funding the LED streetlight conversion.

Mary Ratcliff is Lake Oswego Sustainability Advisory Board co-chair.