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        Reducing Streetlighting

October, 2009

Municipalities Nationwide Reduce Streetlighting to Cut Expense

The recession has brought hard times to municipalities across our nation and around the world. While analyzing their budgets, looking for places to trim expenses, municipal leaders in a number of communities have noticed that they have been paying out a large, steady flow of funds to pay the power and maintenance bills for the streetlights which their towns and cities operate. They may also realize that they are not certain whether all of those lights are serving purposes equal to the amount being spent to operate them; in some cases, they do not even know which earlier leaders installed various lights, or what precise purposes the management of earlier decades had in mind when installing them.
 
While some municipalities may be shutting off some lights now, with the intention of turning them back on "when things improve" (as they are taking other temporary measures, such as laying off employees, hoping to re-hire them before long), others are realizing that unnecessary or inefficient lighting is something wasteful which should be cut from their budgets permanently. The wisest of these towns and cities are starting from scratch, and defining under what circumstances they should be illuminating the night, to what levels, and during what hours.
 

Such analysis can bring the whole municipal "team" onboard: besides the engineers and accountants, police, fire, and other community safety officers, as well as environmental groups can work together on defining standards for streetlight installations. The municipalities then use those standards to analyze their existing lighting installations, and altering the operation of or even removing streetlights which do not meet their own standards of necessity.

Not all currently operated streetlights are necessarily serving a real purpose  
We applaud the concept of analyzing streetlighting practice "from scratch". Every well managed municipality should have standards to define when and where supplemental illumination is needed for safety, security, and/or convenience. Most municipalities also operate streetlighting which was installed over various eras, by managers or developers who may well not have had modern considerations of energy efficiency or environmental and fiscal responsibility in mind. New, economical technologies are also available to control the operation of streetlights, allowing some to be turned off or dimmed during the hours when few citizens are out in certain areas; a light which is on only half of the night consumes 50% less energy than one left on all night (and has half the utility bill). Beyond energy efficiency, this analysis and standard setting should incorporate all of the environmental, health and safety concerns which we address on this website.
 
In the table below are some U.S. towns and cities which have either adopted or are currently analyzing lighting-reduction programs. Included is some summary information on each, with links to Web sources for more details. We will periodically update this information; feel free to send us reports of other municipalities which you know of to be looking into this option.
 

MUNICIPALITY

POPULATION

AREA
sq. mi.

PROGRAM

calculated
ANNUAL SAVINGS

NOTES

LINKS

Nogales, Arizona

19,870

20.8

879 streetlights decomissioned

$90,000

 

News item

Mountain House, California

9,930

 

Shutting off all streetlighting

$56,000

 

News item

Santa Rosa, California

161,496

40.37

30% luminaires de-energized, 30% on timers turned off between the hours of midnight and 5:30 a.m., 30% unchanged

$400,000

Exceptional program of analysis, adopting new technology, and shutting off unneeded lights

City document
Council presentation video (See item 11.1 video)

Colorado Springs, Colorado

414,658

186

Shutting off about 1/3 of their 24,500 streetlights

$1,200,000

 

City report
City 3-minute video

Collier County, Florida

315,839

2,305

Turn off 600 of 1500 streetlights (6 corridors - roads & boulevards w/limited access)

$193,368

Plan intends lights to be turned back on when finances become available

News item
News item

Fernandina Beach, Florida

12,076

10.7

40% reduction in streetlighting

$100,800

 

News item

Rockford, Illinois

152,871

56.7

Turn off 2,400 of the city's streetlights

$500,000

 

News item
News item

Merrillville, Indiana

30,560

33.3

Turn off half of the city's streetlights

$400,000

 

News item
News item

Muncie, Indiana

67,166

24.2

Considering eliminating half of all street lights, ~2,000 in number

$315,000

 

News item

Bar Harbor, Maine

4,820

70.4

65 streetlights eliminated (slightly less than 10%)

$6,825

 

Municipal report

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

9,068

58.4

123 streetlights eliminated

$6,825

13 additional lights lowered to 50W

Municipal report
Municipal report

Kennebunk, Maine

10,496

35.5

Remove 200 street lights

$20,000

 

 

South Portland, Maine

23,324

14.3

112 Street lights turned off

$20,000

 

News item

Andover, Massachusetts

31,247

32.1

Turning off 1/3 off all street lights, 626 in total

$47,000 1st year; $150,000 after

 

News item
City list of shutoff lights
News item

Dennis, Massachusetts

15,973

22.2

proposal to turn 832 street lights off

$20,000

 

News item
News item

Fitchberg, Massachusetts

39,102

28.1

Turning off 50-60% of lights

$200,000

 

 

Leominster, Massachusetts

41,303

29.8

100 lights turned off

$20,000

 

 

Milton, Massachusetts

25,691

13.3

of 3,000 lights turned off

$80,000

 

News item
News item

Northbridge, Massachusetts

13,182

18.1

Turning off 15% of streetlights (184 of 1,100)

data not available

 

News item

Plainville, Massachusetts

8,311

11.6

Turning off 415 of 632 of streetlights

$35,000- $40,000

 

News item

Webster, Massachusetts

16,415

14.5

Turning off 600 of 1,500 lights

$60,000

Began 7/09

 

Ann Arbor, Michigan

114,024

27.7

Turning off 1/6 (1,200) of streetlights

$120,000

 

News item
City report

Muskegon, Michigan

40,105

18.0

Remove 175 of 3,100 streetlights

$245,500

 

News item

White Cloud, Michigan

1,420

2.0

Shutting off most streetlights

$20,000

 

News item

Brainerd, Minnesota

13,178

8.4

Turning off 474 of 1,600 streetlights

$91,000

 

News item

Tulsa, Oklahoma

391,906

186.8

Turning off lighting on city-managed expressways

$240,000 first year

Even with data proving no increased hazard, citizens call for lights' return

News item

New Paris, Ohio

1,623

0.7

Turning off all 106 streetlights

$17,000

 

News item

Wellston, Ohio

6,078

7.1

Turning off half of all 243 streetlights

 

 

News item

Myrtle Creek, Oregon

3,419

1.8

Turning off 90 of 300 streetlights

$12,000

 

News item

Montgomery, Pennsylvania

1,695

0.6

Police dept. chose which lights to be turned off; total: 31 (1/3)

$6,000

 

News item

Cranston, Rhode Island

79,269

29.9

Turning off 1 of every 3 streetlights

$260,000

Savings include electricity and rental fees

News item

Arlington, Texas

367,197

99.7

Turned off every other street light on major arteries

$175,000

 

News item
News item

Shelton, Washington

8,442

5.9

turning off 114 of 860 streetlights

$20,000

will cost $2,000 to shut off

News item

Santa Rosa, California  
Especially impressive amongst the municipalities listed here is the City of Santa Rosa, California's program for streetlighting analysis and reduction. Their effort, described in more detail on their own website, and in a slide presentation and other documents there, included an in-depth analysis of the lighting needs in various parts of their community, and how to meet those needs while accomplishing a substantial reduction in power consumption. They are also making use of current technology to control some individual streetlights for part-night operation, and continue to explore methods for more ecologically sound lighting.

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