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Aug 03

LED Street Lights Providing Economic and Environmental Benefits - Dr. Dale Medearis

Posted on August 3, 2020 at 10:59 AM by Bob Lazaro

LED Street Lights

Since 2017, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) has actively helped its members transition from conventional high-energy consuming high-pressure sodium and mercury vapor light bulbs to light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  The reasons are simple.  LEDs use approximately 75 percent less energy, are more durable and require less maintenance.  This is important to the local governments of our region because streetlights are often among the most expensive energy expenditures.  However, the justification for installing LEDs goes far beyond just their cost savings.  LEDs also produce little infrared and ultraviolet light, thereby reducing light pollution, and their construction through solid-state components contributes to an easier recycling processes.

NVRC contributed to the transition to LEDs through support of improved tariffs covering utility-owned and operated streetlights between Dominion Energy and its local members via the Virginia Energy Purchasing Governmental Association (VEPGA).  The revised tariffs accelerated replacement of broken, non-functional MH and MV luminaires with LED lighting (decorative and basic lights).  The agreements also included revisions to distribution charges per fixture based on schedules and wattage ranges. We were pleased to work with Dominion Energy who made the transition to the new tariffs and lighting seamless.

NVRC’s involvement with the LED transition process expanded in 2019 with its participation in a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) in which NVRC partnered with a consortium of technical consultants (specifically Clean Energy Solutions) and governmental partners such as the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), to provide education, outreach and technical assistance to localities in the region.  to convert conventional streetlights to LEDs.  NVRC supported the technical staff from Clean Energy Solutions with the provision of no-cost technical assistance services that looked at the feasibility and benefits of LED conversions and possible major financing options such as energy performance contracting (EPC), utility incentives, and utility bill repayments.  The results from the analysis have been exceptional.  Localities of the region working to convert conventional streetlights to LEDs could see results like the following:  


Projected Payback in Years

Monthly Energy Savings in $

Avoided Emissions of C02 in Lbs (Estimated Annual Savings)

Avoided Emissions of C02 in Lbs (Estimated Lifetime Savings)

City of Alexandria





Fairfax County





Loudoun County





Town of Leesburg





City of Falls Church





City of Fairfax





Looking ahead to the rest of 2020 and 2021, NVRC with Clean Energy Solutions will host two virtual meetings this September.  The first is to review with Dominion Energy and all the participating localities the overall lessons of the project and assess strengths on which to carry forward and obstacles best to avoid over the past three years.  The second virtual meeting will involve the board of the Virginia Energy Purchasing Governmental Association and explore ideas about the potential adoption of innovations such as on-bill financing that offer strong potential for expanding streetlight LED conversions.  Finally, later this fall, NVRC will work with Clean Energy Solutions to convene a webinar with all the other Virginia planning district commissions within the Dominion service area to share the experiences and benefits of the project from Northern Virginia.