The city of Foster City is converting its streetlights from traditional high-pressure sodium to energy-efficient Light Emitting Diode [LED] lights.
Foster City, which initiated a pilot project to convert to LED lights in early 2011, expects to finish switching streetlights in the city beginning this month.
The pilot project, funded by the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), called to retrofit about 260 of Foster City's streetlights to LEDs. The LED streetlight pilot area included all of Foster City north of Highway 92.
The success of the 2011 installation motivated the city to apply for a second round of grant funding from the California Energy Commissions [CEC], who is administering the ARRA funds.
The city obtained a grant for $747,939, and is contributing $150,000 of the city's money as well. A $196,000 zero percent interest loan from PG&E called On-Bill Financing [OBF] is also helping to make the project possible.
The re-payment of the OBF loan comes from the energy savings from the streetlights converted using OBF funds. The city is partnering with PG&E for the entire project in order to take advantage of their LED turnkey streetlight replacement service.
In addition to a smaller environmental footprint, other benefits of LED streetlights include: longer lifespan (20 years rather than 5 years for the traditional lamps), lower energy use (typically 50 percent less), reduced maintenance costs, more recyclable parts, and no mercury, lead or other known disposal hazards, according to city officials.
This conversion project will result in an estimated annual savings of around 840,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 220 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The LED lamps are beneficial to the city’s budget as well. The city is expected to save about $90,000 annually; $80,000 on energy costs and $10,000 in avoided maintenance expenses.
The project contractor, Cal West, is expected to begin the retrofits in mid-January 2013. With the completion of this project by mid-March, Foster City will be one of the first cities in the Bay Area to have all LED streetlights.