Over the last seven years, the LED Streetlight Replacement Program in Los Angeles has swapped more than 80 percent of the city’s 215,000 streetlight fixtures with LED units. To date, energy usage has lowered by 63 percent, saving the city approximately $9 million per year in energy costs. The city estimates that carbon emissions have fallen by 47,583 metric tons per year.

The energy savings have had another benefit—reduced load on the city’s electric circuits. 

“This gives us the ability to use the power for other purposes, and we have started a new program of installing [electric vehicle] charging stations attached to streetlight poles,” said Ed Ebrahimian, director of the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street Lighting.

The city also reports reduced crime where LED lamps have been installed, resulting from brighter light and the fact that cameras are installed on some of the posts. Solar panels have been installed on its streetlight fixtures, and the utility company buys back excess power.

The LED replacement program is “a shining example of how green technology can be both environmentally responsible and cost-effective. We have transformed the night landscape, made our city safer and pedestrian-friendly at night, and have exceeded our initial program goals on both energy efficiency and CO2 reductions,” Ebrahimian said. 

The city is also looking into connecting the poles to 911 calls, causing the lamps to blink when there is an emergency.

In addition, the Bureau said Los Angeles is the first city in the nation to install SmartPole streetlights, which are equipped with energy-efficient LED lamps and 4G LTE wireless technology. One hundred of these streetlights will be installed this year, and 500 more will be added over the next four years. This involves replacing the entire standard pole with a new pole that is slightly larger and has accommodation for small cells in the upper part of the pole, where the arm of the fixture is located. A cabinet on the lower part of the pole contains various equipment, much of it installed by cell phone carriers.

The SmartPoles are designed to deliver enhanced and reliable broadband coverage to businesses, citizens and visitors by integrating small-cell technology with standard city streetlights, thus improving the wireless network for smartphones in dense urban areas.

Each pole has room for two to three small cell compartments for a cell phone carrier, which can lease space in the pole for $1,000 per year. If a different carrier wants access, another pole can be installed nearby. Ebrahimian said the carrier pays for the pole installation.

“By leasing the valuable digital real estate on top of city light poles, this project will self-fund, resulting in no cost to taxpayers and generating hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue for the city,” he said.