Austin Joins Growing Network of LED Cities

Austin, Texas has joined the LED City program. The LED City program is an international initiative to deploy and promote energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) technology.

In December 2007, the city of Austin and Austin Energy retrofitted a floor of the One Texas Center Parking Garage with 47-watt LED fixtures from Beta LED. LED fixtures also have been installed in a hallway at Austin Energy headquarters, in streetlights on Barton Springs, in the Palmer Events Center marquee sign and in the water fountain at the new Palmer Events Center Park. Additional test installations are planned throughout the city, including a portion of the lights surrounding the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.

“One of the workhorses in the city’s lighting inventory is the 250-watt, high-pressure sodium Cobra-head roadway fixture. We plan to evaluate LED solutions that have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 47 to 90 percent over traditional lighting solutions,” said Austin Mayor Will Wynn. “Just by retro-fitting 5,000 streetlights—a mere portion of all of the streetlights within the city—the city could realize savings of up to $500,000 a year. And that doesn’t include additional maintenance and labor-cost savings if we won’t be sending out a worker in a boom truck an additional six to seven times just to change a light bulb.”

The total wattage of the LED garage light installation is about 30 percent below the allowable wattage as required by the Energy Code Allowance, Wynn said. “This represents a savings of $6,795 a year in utility costs compared to the code allowance. Because LEDs typically last five to seven times times longer than the prior fixture bulbs, the city anticipates it could achieve an additional savings of $27,000 in replacement lamp costs over the life of the LEDs. The combined annualized savings to the city could be $10,178 per year with a simple payback of 6.5 years. This lighting strategy is part of our efforts to achieve Energy Star and LEED Accreditation for city of Austin buildings. LEDs represent a new, exciting technology that can help us achieve the ambitious goals we have established through our Climate Protection Plan.”

“Austin Energy has a $17 million-per-year rebate program that encourages commercial and home energy customers to purchase and use products that provide significant energy savings,” said Roger Duncan, Austin Energy’s interim general manager. “Our LED lighting rebate of $300-per-kilowatt-of-capacity-reduced aims to cover about 30 percent of the upfront cost of LEDs to help businesses explore the benefits of this new technology.”

In 2003, the city of Austin retrofitted more than 5,200 traffic signals and 3,700 pedestrian signals with LEDs. The wattage of the traffic signals was reduced from 135 watts to 11 to 15 watts each—a 90 percent reduction. The award-winning retrofit has realized a savings of 7.25 million kilowatt-hours per year and removed 830 kilowatts of demand load from the city grid, and the city estimates it has saved taxpayers $1.4 million per year plus additional maintenance and labor savings.


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