The largest city in Maryland is replacing 70,000 sodium
vapor streetlights over the next three years with energy saving LEDs (aka light
emitting diodes), reports The Baltimore Sun.
The project will help Baltimore save $1.9 million on its
annual electricity bill plus $275,000 per year in maintenance costs because
they don't have to be replaced as often as the old bulbs. From an environmental
standpoint, the conversion will also help cut down on light pollution, reports
So far, the first phase of the project is about 80%
complete, with 8,000 new lights in place. The next phase will involve swapping
out lights owned by the local utility, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
"I'm getting positive responses from citizens. The
streets are brighter," Ted Atwood, director of Baltimore's Department of
General Services, told the Sun. "You have the efficiency of the light and
you have less light pollution because you can focus the light better and have
less light spilling out."
Some critics, however, suggest that because LED fixtures
are very focused in the way they cast their light, they will not illuminate
some sidewalks as well as the old lights. That could present public safety
issues, they say.
"They don't seem to be as effective as the vapor
lights," City Councilman Robert W. Curran told the Sun.
Despite these rather typical growing pains, however, many other Maryland
municipalities and agencies are making the switch. That's because estimates
from the Clinton Climate Initiative says streetlights can account for as much
as 60% of a municipality's electric bill. They also last about twice as long.
That's a lot of money to be saved.
A recent analysis by the Department of Energy found that
LED have the smallest environmental footprint among lighting technologies.
For that reason, they are often at the center of
corporate and government energy efficiency projects, such as a major office
retrofit completed in New York by Ernst & Young earlier this summer as well
as a remodeling at the iconic Empire State Building.
For The Baltimore Sun article: