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A brightening future for LED Street Lights in North Central Texas?

The benefits of light emitting diode (LED) street lights for municipal purposes are many: 1) They’re longer lasting—an LED light can last up to 100,000 hours; 2) They don’t contain toxic chemicals like mercury and lead; 3) They’re highly energy efficient—they use only 15 percent of the energy of an incandescent bulb while generating more light per watt!; and 4) They can serve as the backbone for smart city elements such as monitoring systems capable of detecting crowds, car crashes, gun shots, monitoring air quality, and more. For some North Central Texas cities, the benefits of transitioning street lighting to LEDs are already being seen.

For the City of Arlington, their transition to LEDs has yielded even greater benefits than expected. In addition to reducing energy use by 47 percent, the upgrade has allowed the city to redirect city staff. Before the upgrade, an eight-member street light crew was fully dedicated to maintaining the streetlights. Since then the crew can focus their efforts on upgrading wiring to make the system more reliable as a whole.

Why then, are LED street lights rare? A main reason why LEDs haven’t been more broadly adopted in the North Central Texas region is due to their high up-front costs and the fact that street lighting tariffs for wattages less than 100 watts are currently unavailable. But due to municipal demand, this may soon change! As part of its recently submitted Rate Case application, Oncor Electric, has proposed an updated street light tariff that would allow for wattages less than 100 watts—which are essential to cities’ ability to recover costs.

More information about the Rate Case, the City of Arlington’s transition to LEDs, or LED street lights generally can be accessed via their respective links. Alternatively, feel free to contact NCTCOG staff at 817-695-9226 with questions.

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