Alliant Energy brings LED technology to Iowa streetlights

This image compares high pressure sodium lights (left) and new LED fixtures (right) which provide a higher quality of light with 20% less energy use. (Images courtesy Alliant Energy.)

This image compares high pressure sodium lights (left) and new LED fixtures (right) which provide a higher quality of light with 20% less energy use. (Photos: Alliant Energy)

Under Iowa’s energy efficiency policies, electric utilities in the state encourage or complete a wide range of projects to help Iowans utilize energy more efficiently. Often these projects are located in commercial and industrial settings invisible to many of us. But in other cases, energy efficiency efforts bring benefits all Iowans can see and enjoy.

An Alliant crewperson installs one of the new efficient LED structures.

An Alliant crew member installs one of the new efficient LED fixtures. (Photo:  Alliant Energy)

Right now, Alliant Energy is expanding its advanced street lighting technology project state-wide by upgrading its streetlights to increase energy-efficiency and performance with light-emitting-diode (LED) fixtures. This improved technology saves energy and improves the lighting quality on roads.

The vast majority of streetlights in Alliant Energy communities across Iowa are high-pressure sodium (HPS). Most of these lights feature a 100-watt bulb that casts a somewhat patchy yellowish light. As these lights fail, Alliant Energy will replace the HPS fixture with an 80-watt LED fixture. The light produced by LED streetlights is directed at the ground better than the HPS, meaning the light is brighter and more even where it is wanted – on streets and sidewalks. The LED also produces a truer white light, allowing the human eye to see colors and details better at night.

Alliant Energy owns or maintains around 44,000 of these specific streetlights in its Iowa service territory, and expects the change-out process to take around seven years. The utility previously implemented a pilot version of this project in the Cedar Rapids community in the summer of 2012, which has been very well-received.

“We are excited to bring this new energy-efficient technology to our communities in Iowa. This is a win-win for our customers because this upgrade will increase both the energy-efficiency of the lights and it will enhance the quality of light on the streets,” said Tom Aller, president of Interstate Power & Light Company, the Alliant Energy subsidiary that serves many eastern Iowa homes and businesses.

Initial estimates show switching this specific light, when all are switched, will reduce annual energy usage in the state by almost nine million kilowatt-hours (kWh). For comparison, the average Iowa home used 10,776 kWh a year according to 2011 data from the Energy Information Administration.

Alliant’s planned effort is the broadest retrofit of LED streetlights in Iowa to date. Some municipal utilities in Iowa have upgraded streetlights to LEDs in recent years. MidAmerican has conducted a successful LED streetlight pilot and offers a small grant program, but has not announced a broad retrofit initiative to date.

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