Philadelphia will quite literally look different at night as the city moves to install energy efficient LED bulbs throughout its more than 105,000 streetlights.
The Streets Department has already switched just under 10,000 streetlights to LED bulbs, city spokeswoman Kelly Cofrancisco said. Officials are now requesting public bids from contractors so that they may start switching over the remaining lights.
“Projects like LED street lighting will sustain our progress while providing all Philadelphians with safer streets and better service,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement.
However, given that public bidding process has just been announced, there is no definite timetable for when all the streetlights throughout the city will be using LED bulbs, Cofrancisco said. “We’re still a couple of years away from that,” she said.
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Cofrancisco added that over time, the savings from switching to LED bulbs will offset the upfront costs of the project. She also said the city is "looking for controls that will allow for dimming and outage notifications on lighting," which could lead to more savings.
LED bulbs are six to seven times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs and can last more than 25 times as long, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Council President Darrell Clarke praised not only the carbon-cutting effects and lower energy costs of LED lighting but also the quality of life impacts.
“Data from other cities shows that converting our streetlights to LED will have a significant impact on gun violence, public safety and quality of life in neighborhoods citywide,” he said in a statement.
The streetlight conversion is just one in a series of changes that the city has been undertaking as part of its Municipal Energy Master Plan for the Built Environment, which it committed to in 2017. That master plan showed that switching streetlights to LED bulbs had the highest potential for cutting greenhouse gases throughout the city.
A recent progress report from Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability shows that city facilities have cut carbon emissions by 33% since 2006. The goal is to reach a 50% reduction by 2030.