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Whiter, brighter streetlights in Yuba City
No light bulb jokes in sight, but Yuba City streets might seem to be a little brighter in the last week as the city embarks on a massive project to convert about 3,600 streetlights to light-emitting diode fixtures.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. subcontractors began installation on Sept. 10 and are winding their way around Yuba City, spending a few minutes at each street lamp to swap out the high-pressure sodium vapor bulbs with LED fixtures.
The retrofit will affect 76 percent of the lights in the city, all of those except decorative fixtures and those owned by PG&E.
"Our goal is to save the taxpayers money and I think moving ahead with the LED is better in the long run," said Public Works and Utilities Director George Musallam.
The project is funded by a $1.35 million loan from the California Energy Commission. The city will use savings in energy costs to repay the loan over 14 years and then will incur all other savings, which are expected to be $132,000 a year, Musallam said.
LED lighting uses about half the energy as conventional light fixtures and lasts more than five times longer. The new lights are expected to last more than 20 years, which means the city should amass about $1 million in savings starting in 2023.
"And also, as far as more lighting for the neighborhoods, I think this will enhance safety," Musallam said.
The project is expected to be completed by November. It takes just a matter of minutes to switch out each bulb.
The new lights are whiter and brighter, but Musallam said he has not heard any feedback from residents so far, other than a positive response from residents during a test conversion this spring.
Marysville began its own LED replacement project two years ago, and has since converted all but about 60 of its 1,107 streetlights.
The project does not include lights on Highways 20 and 70 that Caltrans is planning on replacing as part of a reconstruction project. Marysville is using $447,790 in California Energy Commission grant funds for the project and expects to have an annual savings of $45,000.
"We had reduced our budget by turning off some of the streetlights — about half of them. This allowed us to get them all turned back on, and our energy cost is the same as it was when we had half of them off," said City Services Director Dave Lamon. "We essentially got everything back on and still have a permanent reduction in our lighting budget."