Agreement clears the way for LED street lights in Fairfax County

led streetlight photoPhoto credit: Fairfax County

An agreement with Dominion Energy spearheaded by Fairfax County will make it less expensive for local governments to convert to energy-saving LED street lights.

“LED streetlights are longer lasting and more efficient than traditional streetlights,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. The initiative was undertaken by local governments and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.

Dominion installs, owns, operates and maintains most of the nearly 58,000 streetlights in Fairfax County. The new agreement presents an opportunity to begin converting these lights to LEDs, according to county officials. The county would be responsible for paying to replace existing high-pressure sodium, metal halide and mercury vapor streetlights with LEDs.

Bulova’s office said the new agreement with Dominion offers many benefits, including:

  • Lower costs for converting existing streetlights to LEDs. Dominion will charge $130 to convert what is currently considered a standard, basic, streetlight fixture to either a basic or premium LED light. This upfront cost is recouped in the long run because LEDs are more energy efficient and last longer.
  • No-cost, LED conversions for existing streetlight fixtures that fail. Dominion will not charge the county for these conversions.
  • Lower monthly costs to operate the LEDs. Previously, Dominion charged about $12 in electricity distribution and supply costs for a basic LED streetlight based on the utility’s rates last year. This cost will be about $7 for a basic LED light under the new agreement.
  • More choice in the type and style of LED streetlights. Before, Dominion only offered two LED fixtures. Under the new agreement, up to 18 different fixture styles may be available, although the county would not use all available types.
  • Warmer color temperatures. Until now, Dominion only offered 4,000-Kelvin LEDs. Under the agreement, 3,000-Kelvin lights, which produce softer light, will be available.
  • Smart technology ready with a “seven-pin capability.” This allows future smart technologies to be added to the lights, such as dimmers, remote monitoring, outage reporting and other sensor arrays. Further discussions with Dominion will be required to begin implementation of these “smart city” applications.

LED streetlights use 40 to 60 percent less electricity when compared to conventional streetlights, and they last up to three to four times longer.

Cities across the nation have begun making the switch to LED streetlights, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The move saves governments money in the long run with lower utility bills, and it also helps the environment through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.