On February 16, 2009, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and President Bill Clinton announced a partnership under which the city, advised by the Clinton Climate Initiative, would outfit 140,000 street lights with light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures.
The City of Los Angeles owns and operates the nation’s second-largest street lighting system: 210,000 street lights (including 70,000 decorative street lamps that will be retrofitted in a second phase) anchored along 4,500 miles of illuminated streets.
Ed Ebrahimian manages the City of Los Angeles Street Lighting LED Program launched in collaboration with the Clinton Climate Initiative five years ago to international acclaim. To date, it is the largest municipal LED retrofit program in the world (215,000 streetlights), and has become a model for cities and utilities everywhere.
Ed Ebrahimian will be speaking on the first day of Outdoor Lighting Projects UAE 2015 conference organized by Advanced Conferences & Meetings (ACM) on 25-26 May, Dubai. ACM is a premium business-to-business conference company focused on the requirements of the MENA region.
ACM has had following exclusive interview with Ed Ebrahimian.
Why was it important for the City of Los Angeles to undertake this monumental project?
The main driver was to support Mayor’s initiative of making Los Angeles the Greenest city in the USA. We also saw an opportunity to reduce our energy consumption and energy bills for street lighting which at the time was $16 M dollars annually.
This program has exceeded our initial (6years ago) goals of reducing energy consumption by 40 percent and reducing CO2 emissions by 40,000 metric tons.
(Realized numbers are in question No 4 answers)
What were the main challenges you and the City of Los Angeles faced when commencing the street light project?
Well, Obviously LED technology six, seven years ago was a completely new technology for street lighting applications and probably this was our main challenge. We addressed it by continuing our testing and evaluation process of fixtures from different manufactures every six months and only approved and installed the best products at the lowest price.
Probably six years ago fixture pricing was also a main challenge, which more or less has dissipated today. Fixtures sold to us at $ 400 dollars six years ago are at about $150 range today.
Six years ago LED street lights were unproven technology and challenging to adopt however today I think they are considered no brainers for municipalities and utilities.
How was the program financed?
The program was financed by a loan from the utility company here in Los Angeles along with energy efficiency rebates:
$40 M dollars loan
$16 M dollars energy efficiency rebates
What have been the results in terms of energy and cost savings to date?
To date we have converted 157,000 cobra head /modern style street lights from the 215,000 street lights that we have in the City of Los Angeles.
% Energy savings: % 63 percent
Annual CO2 reductions: 55,774 MT
Annual Energy savings: 94 Giga Wh
Annual Energy savings ($): $8.3 M Dollars/Year
How have these financial savings been used (redirected) to the benefit of the city of Los Angeles?
Currently the financial savings is paying back the loan but when the loan is paid back the savings will be invested in capital projects to install new street lights and to rehabilitate aging street lighting infrastructure that some date back to early 1900s.
Aside from the energy and cost savings, what have been the main benefits of the LED program?
• Reliability and Long life up to 20 years with LED technology versus (vs) 4 to 6 years with the old technology,
• Reduction in night-time crime
• Reduction in night-time traffic accidents
• White light with LED vs orange light of the old technology, better color rendering, perception of safer streets and sidewalks by citizens,
• A lot easier to control light vs the old technology
• reduction of sky glow from street lights above the city of Los Angeles,
• dimming and control capability
• lastly… when the time comes to remove these fixtures they have no mercury in them as oppose to the old technologies that were harmful for the environment
As you know, Dubai is shaping up for a major revamp of its outdoor lighting fixtures, as part of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy’s Demand Side Management program. What would your advice be to city municipality’s contemplating a large scale street lighting retrofit of this nature?
My advice: Develop the expertise and realize the importance of testing, evaluation and pilot installation process do not completely rely on manufacturer’s claims and specifications. Every claim needs to be verified, tested and validated before approving and procurement and installation.
Make sure the specifications and warranties are tight and up to date with the current LED technology.
I would value lessons learned and experience from others who have installed large scale project like this and definitely take advantage of their experience in all areas of; testing, evaluation, specifications, procurement and implementation/installation.
(looks like this is happening in Dubai anyway)
As a key member on the Advisory Panel of Outdoor Lighting Projects conference, how can a conference of this type contribute to Outdoor Lighting industry, in your opinion? And how can participants benefit from taking part in such a conference?
There is no question that a conference like this will be invaluable to attendees and also governmental decision makers who really have to set the programs and goals for municipalities.
Any time you have a new technology introduced to the market, conferences like this goes a long way to educate, inspire, promote and initiate new directions.
Venues/conferences like this opens up the opportunity to the outdoor lighting industry experts and stakeholders to share success stories and lesson learned. It stimulates new ideas and outside the box thinking mentality. It raises expectations and helps to set the bar and standards higher. In many ways verifies and challenges manufacturer claims and specifications.