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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


LED streetlight project shifts focus

February 28, 2023 | Jason Kuiper | OPPD at work
LED streetlight
Tim Stambaugh, an apprentice streetlight worker with OPPD, replaces burned out sodium vapor bulbs with new energy-efficient LED bulbs in acorn-style fixtures. He was working in a northwest Omaha neighborhood near 192nd Street and Old Lincoln Highway. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

After four years of replacing streetlights around the service territory with new LED lights, OPPD is shifting focus.

The utility replaced more than 90,000 streetlights with “cobra” head-style lights – the rectangular style of light used to illuminate streets and interstates.

Now OPPD crews and contractors will start replacing “decorative” style lights, such as acorns and concourses, as needed. That will be a more complicated conversion process. Crews must remove some parts and do some wiring to replace decorative lights.

Supply chain challenges will also affect how quickly OPPD can complete these conversions.

Todd McLochlin, manager of Utilities Coordination at OPPD, said that at the height of the program, OPPD was replacing 2,500 fixtures a month.

Originally, the plan was to replace 20,000 streetlights with the LED fixtures. But through some efficiencies with the contractor, OPPD was able to surpass that number and could do proactive conversions instead of waiting for the lights to burn out, McLochlin said.

Crews first focused on the metro area and its major roads and thoroughfares, as well as rural towns and villages. Next, crews branched out into sanitary improvement districts (SIDS) and corridors where only portions of the road had been converted.

Benefits of LED lights

One of the expected benefits of using LED streetlights for OPPD is a decrease in streetlight outages.

“We’ve seen a big drop in first response calls that report street light outages since we started this program,” said Katie Brenneman, senior Construction Services coordinator. “Calls now are more likely to be for a cut cable or some other intrusive event.”

McLochlin said several of the municipalities within the metro area are now using the savings from OPPD’s LED conversion to fund projects to perform conversions on the lights they own to further reduce lighting costs to the taxpayer.

“The conversions to date have gone very well and have been under budget year after year, meeting the ultimate goal of cost savings and energy savings as well as benefits to the environment,” McLochlin said.

OPPD will replace decorative lights like those found in downtown Omaha, Dundee, the Blackstone District and others, but there have been issues getting those from suppliers. McLochlin estimated that about 5,000 decorative lights need to be replaced.

Report outages

OPPD asks that customers report when they see the new LED lights start blinking – that’s a sign that the light is burning out.

OPPD urges customers to report burned out streetlights. Customers can visit to easily locate and report a streetlight outage. They can also call 1-800-554-6773 or can report a streetlight outage on the OPPDConnect phone app.

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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.

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