Friday, August 5, 2022

New $42 million LED streetlight project announced by City & MLGW

 Starting next month, Memphis Light, Gas and Water and the City of Memphis are launching an aggressive new project in which all 84,000-plus streetlights will be replaced with new LED lights.  

Mayor Jim Strickland and MLGW President & CEO J.T. Young made the announcement at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at City Hall. “Improved lighting, improves safety,” Strickland said in every neighborhood in Memphis. “With these new lights, no longer will criminals have safe harbor to operate under cover of darkness. People will feel safer on their streets.”  

Once the project is finished by the fall of 2023, Young predicted, “We will see about a 55% energy savings in street lighting so our greenhouse footprint will be reduced.” 

During the press conference, MLGW Electric Matrix Manager Brad Gates demonstrated the contrast between the LED and the high pressure sodium or cobra head lights. At night, the LED light appears brighter because it provides more directional lighting than an existing streetlight, whereas the high pressure sodium lights produce more of an orange-white light. 

The project is expected to start in September and will generally go in a west to east direction. Workers will be replacing high pressure sodium – or cobra head lights – that were first installed in the late 1950s.   

The new LED lights will have a “smart” photocell attached to the fixture. A smart connected lighting system notifies MLGW if a light is out or malfunctioning. The new lights come with a 10-year warranty but are expected to last up to 20 years or more. Only the lighting is changing. No streetlight poles will be moved or replaced. 

The City of Memphis selected Ameresco, which specializes in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Ameresco has partnered locally with ALLWORLD Project Management, LLC. 

During a pilot phase, MLGW installed LED lights throughout the city. LED lights are now in Cordova, Elvis Presley Boulevard, Shelby Drive, Tchulahoma Road, Getwell Road, Jackson Avenue-Meagher Road, LeBohneur Children’s Medical Center, Memphis Botanic Gardens area along Park and Cherry, and the University District (Lemoyne Owen, Christian Brothers University, Union campus of Southwest Community College and Rhodes College.)

 Since 2014, all Memphis residents and business owners pay a monthly streetlighting fee. The monthly fees are $1.08 for apartment dwellers, $4.32 for other residential customers, $6.48 for small commercial customers and $19.07 for larger commercial customers.

Ameresco has installed more than half-million LED lights in North America.

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