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LED streetlights for $1? More cities find the switch quickly pays for itself

Submitted by scc staff on July 24, 2015

How would you replace your old streetlights with new LEDs for just $1 apiece? That’s the deal some cities are getting and it’s helping to further reduce the already short payback period on the energy-efficient lights.

In Massachusetts, Andover city officials are now putting together a package to buy discounted LEDs to bring light to sections of the city that have been dark after old lights were turned off.

It pays to negotiate
Andover is getting the lights for nearly 90% off, a discount it got by simply asking neighboring cities what they were paying for their LEDs. National Grid originally asked for $165,000 for the 1,682 lights. When the city learned its neighbors were paying only $1 each, the utility offered it the same deal.

For the city, the transition will soon bring light to neighborhoods that have been in the dark since a budget crunch prompted it to turn off some lights six years ago. Turning the lights off saved the city money on electricity, but it was still paying to lease the lights themselves. Due to deregulation, the city now has the ability to buy the lights outright, something that wasn’t an option a few years ago.

Rapid payoff
Of course, the LEDs themselves are only one part of the overall cost. Between the conversion costs and relocating some lights to poles the city owns, Andover could end up paying as much as a half-million for the project. But LEDs last much longer and use significantly less energy. The LEDs could pay for themselves in seven years or less.

Other cities have found the payoff period is even shorter. In Boston, for example, LEDs paid for themselves in just one year thanks to the NSTAR rebate. Even without the rebate, however, its payoff period would have been only two or three years.

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