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City plans to go green with LED street lights savings
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Converting all of the city-owned street lights in Ceres to LED technology is expected to cut the cost of electricity in half, produce brighter light, possibly reduce crime and last years longer.

The city is seeking a $1.193 million low-interest loan from the state to fund the project, which would be managed by PG&E.

"Because of budget issues, I am seeking to cut the expenditure of the street division so we don't lose any more personnel," said Public Works Supt. Michael Riddell. "This is a big energy savings."

Currently the city spends $225,000 per year for electricity to power approximately 2,212 street lights. LED technology will reduce that power bill by $108,000 annually. And because the fixtures are guaranteed seven year and LEDs last anywhere from 20 to 40 years, the city expects to save another $80,000 savings over a seven-year period.

Most cities currently use high pressure sodium (HPS) vapor or mercury vapor lamps. LEDs, short for light emitting diodes, operate differently with a sunflower type collection of smaller LEDs. An LED uses 90 watts for the same thing as a high pressure sodium requiring 159 watts, said Riddell.

"This is all green technology," said Riddell. "It will amount to a reduction of 600,000 pounds of carbon output. We can make the statement that we will be the first city in the Valley to go with green technology on our street lighting."

Another advantage to the newer technology is a third of the LEDs can fail in a unit and still produce a fair of amount of light. When a sodium bulb goes, it has to be replaced.

Residents will notice the new lights after they are installed beginning in December.

"They will notice a different whiter light," said Riddell. That whiter light, he said, will allow people to better distinguish colors at night which will aid in reporting of crimes. "The police department is all for it. With the LED technology if a car drives by a resident will be able to tell the color the car is rather than say it was a dark vehicle."

Anyone interested in how the new lights will look may take a drive down Kinser Road where two LEDs are currently operating. One is at the corner of Kinser Road at Blaker Road and the other is in the 1600 block of Kinser Road.

Riddell said it will take about 11 1/2 years for the city to pay off the loan from the California Energy Commission through annual savings.

Turlock Irrigation District, which is the electricity provider for Ceres, is offering the city a $66,000 refund for the change-out.

PG&E has a program to oversee change-out projects even though it may not sell electricity to a city. PG&E will perform a comprehensive audit on the number of street lights, wattages, voltage that's running them and perform a photometric study.

The city has tentative approval for the loan and is now waiting for the CEC to approve it. The change out is expected to begin Dec. 1 and take 60 days.