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Lighting the way – ahead of schedule

March 13, 2020 | Jason Kuiper | community, energy efficiency
LED streetlights

After accelerating the replacement of streetlights with new LED fixtures last year, OPPD is running ahead of schedule on the project. The utility announced the project in 2018 to update the 98,744 streetlights in the OPPD service territory over a five-year period.

So far, 32,000 lights have been replaced. Lights in smaller towns are done and SIDS will be among the next wave of replacements.

The plan originally called for OPPD and its contractors to replace 20,000 incandescent streetlights with LED fixtures per year. After the first two to three years of the program, streetlights along all major roads should be complete.

“It has gone smoothly,” said Todd McLochlin, manager of Utilities and Right of Way Coordination at OPPD. “Yes, it does take some time to get used to the color. Any change is noticeable so we ask our customer-owners to be patient.”

McLochlin said the major thoroughfares in the metro area are complete. Typically lights are replaced as they burn out. Last year, OPPD replaced 7,000 streetlights fixtures on major thoroughfares. These types of roads are not highways and interstates in the metro area, but rather main roads such as 84th Street, 168th Street, Galvin Road, Harrison Street and Ames Street.

Crew increase

Last year the utility increased those crews to a total of five to meet the higher volume of the LED replacements.

Municipalities that are OPPD streetlight customers submitted priority lists of major roads in their cities and towns that crews should target for replacement. Some smaller towns, such as Rulo and Peru, had all streetlights switched to the new LED fixtures.

In cases like those towns, McLochlin said since the towns have a small number of streetlights, it was more efficient to replace all of the fixtures in town rather than travel to replace just one.

Report outages

Even though the utility is accelerating its streetlight replacement program, OPPD urges customers to report streetlight outages as they always have. Customers can visit oppd.com to easily locate and report a streetlight outage. They can also call 1-800-554-6773 or report a streetlight outage on the OPPDConnect phone app. These outages reports will continue to be handled as they always have.

Saving money

After many years of collaborating with streetlight customers, they have come to rely on OPPD to provide expertise, not just in streetlight restoration, but also with knowledge about the latest technologies and design concepts.

A total of 98,744 streetlights cover the roads and highways of OPPD’s 13-county service territory. By converting streetlights to LED fixtures, municipalities that contract with OPPD will see a 25% reduction in their overall streetlight costs. Other benefits include:

  • The lifespan of LED streetlights is four times longer than the current high-pressure sodium fixtures in place for most customers – 15 to 20 years compared to five years.
  • Cities, towns, sanitary and improvement districts, and other municipalities will see an average of 25% reduction in their bill, which translates to savings for their taxpayers.
  • Increased reliability with fewer streetlight outages.
  • LED fixtures emit a bright, white light compared to the amber tones of current streetlights. This provides better visibility for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and serves to deter crime.

Beyond cost savings and reliability, when LED lights fail, they dim as opposed to going completely dark.

OPPD expects to see a decrease in streetlight outages once the conversion is complete. This will help reduce maintenance, a large component of the streetlight rate. It will also benefit the environment by reducing waste from materials and fuel.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

View all posts by Jason Kuiper >

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