Municipal Street Lighting

Streetlights at night

Bright Lights, Bright Futures:
LED Streetlights Save Money, Last Longer, Improve Lighting

If metro Detroit converted 50,000 street lights to LED technology, what kind of impact would that make? Cities and taxpayers alike would benefit from the cost savings, and our region would move one more step from Rust Belt to Green Belt.

SEMREO created the Michigan Street Lighting Coalition (MSLC) to intervene in DTE rate cases to ensure municipalities can pursue energy efficiency projects in a cost-effective manner. SEMREO has now created the Michigan Municipal Association for Utility Issues (MI-MAUI) in place of the MSLC to represent municipal interests in utility regulatory proceedings and to provide technical and financial in business relations with utilities. MI-MAUI is also developing financial solutions to assist municipalities with LED streetlight conversions.

Upgrading all public streetlights to LEDs throughout the metropolitan Detroit region will lead to significant savings for local governments with fiscally constrained budgets while realizing environmental, aesthetic, and public safety benefits.

Why LEDs?

The benefits of upgrading old, inefficient street lights are many. They include:

  • Fiscal savings for cities and taxpayers: Street lights account for about 20% of a municipality’s energy bill. Most cities have old street lights; LEDs can be 40-50% more efficient, last longer, and decrease energy usage and expenses.
  • Public safety: In many of the communities we work with, lighting is a public safety issue. The most vulnerable neighborhoods often lack adequate lighting. The cost savings from LED upgrades would support more complete coverage in their communities, such as in neighborhoods and downtown districts.
  • Addressing climate change: Upgrading street lights statewide could have the impact of reducing electricity use in Michigan by 310,000 MWh overall and cutting emissions by 217,861 MtCO2e. That’s the equivalent of powering 23,000 homes with electricity for one year, 232,477,936 pounds of coal burned, or the carbon sequestered by 206,228 acres of US forests in one year (data from the EPA’s GHG equivalence calculator).

MSLC’s Rate Case Victory

On Tuesday, January 31st 2017, SEMREO’s Michigan Street Lighting Coalition (MSLC) won a long-fought battle on DTE Electric rate case U-18014 that increased the savings gained from LED streetlights compared to older lighting technologies.

Due to MSLC’s advocacy in this rate case, an “average” municipality with 1,000 DTE-owned streetlights can save almost $84,000 (27%) per year with 100% LED conversion. This figure is $39,000 more than the city’s maximum LED savings under DTE’s originally proposed (and defeated) rates and even significantly higher than the $69,000 per year the city could have saved before these rate cases were filed.

By working together, MSLC’s members preserved the business case for converting to LED streetlights. Cities around the region can proceed with LED streetlight conversion, realizing substantial savings while receiving higher-quality lighting, public safety benefits, and reduced environmental impacts.

The Regional Energy Office hopes to create a replicable model of collaborative energy efforts that can be applied in other metropolitan areas across the country.

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