The Norman Transcript


January 20, 2013

New lights reduce light pollution



This type of light is more efficient and uses less electricity.

How much the city pays the electric provider for a light takes into consideration the cost of maintenance and the electricity use. Also, if the electric provider has to make the structural investment in the light poles and lamps, the charge is higher. If the city makes the investment in the infrastructure, the charge is lower even though the electric provider — OG&E or OEC — maintains the light.

The Main Street lighting project runs from west of Merkle Drive to University Boulevard. It’s a $1, 083,917 contract paid with 100 percent transportation safety funding by Surface Transportation Project (STP) grant funds channeled through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG).

“I’m not aware of a city doing a mile-and-a-half of an LED continuous roadway project,” Lombardo said. “To this scale, this is the first time that a city has done a replacement of a system.”

The system being replaced was owned by OG&E. Now the city will own the system but OG&E has agreed to stock parts they don’t normally carry in order to maintain the new lights. It’s that partnership that could lead to cities throughout Oklahoma turning to the energy conserving LED lights in the future.

“We have estimated that we will actually save in the range of $20-25,000 per year because now we are the owners of that system,” Lombardo said.

The drawback is that if a motorist runs into a light pole and damages it, for example, the city will be out the cost of replacing that infrastructure. But those replacements are relatively rare, Lombardo said, and often a motorist’s insurance will pick up the cost.

The next LED project for city road lighting has already been bid. The city will replace lights on Jenkins from Highway 9 to Constitution Street. That will also be funded 100 percent with STP money.

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