A shiny new way with LEDs

By on September 24, 2015

The streets of San Antonio are getting a little brighter. The old yellow or orange-glow is taking a bow to crisp, white light as we replace all old streetlights with new LEDs, or light emitting diodes. LEDs are now our new standard for all roadway and security lights throughout the Greater San Antonio area we serve.

“LEDs can last for 100,000 hours, which is an extremely long life.  They don’t have filaments that can quickly burn out like the high pressure sodium lights. That means lower maintenance costs and greater energy efficiency,” said Group EVP and Chief Delivery Officer Jelynne LeBlanc Burley.

We’ve teamed up with New Energy Economy partner GreenStar for a three-year deal for 10,000 LED streetlights per year. Paul Duran, interim CEO for GreenStar, is excited about bringing more jobs to our community.

“We are very proud to contribute to the growth and improvement of San Antonio. This next phase of streetlight improvement is a cornerstone project and growth driver for our company over the next several years.”

Benefits for our community 

The 30,000 LED streetlights which are manufactured on San Antonio’s west side will offer a multitude of cost-saving benefits.

Paul commented, The latest generation of LED products uses the latest in electronics technology and offers excellent energy efficiency, which approach 70% savings in lighting costs.”

With an average life span of 15 years, the LEDs last twice as long as traditional streetlamps used today that, on average, burn out after seven years. LEDs also provide improved lighting distribution and enriched color rendition for increased road safety.

Public safety is one of the reasons elected officials in and around San Antonio are asking for the improved lighting.

“We worked with Councilwoman Shirley Gonzalez on a pilot project in District 5 that replaced about 450 lights. The results prompted a request from Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran so we’re brightening neighborhoods in District 3 now, and we’ve received requests from the County and our suburban cities as well,” said Burley. “We’re glad that they’re eager to put in place a more energy efficient lighting system.”

Before

Before – High Pressure Sodium

After

After – LEDs

New Energy Economy prospering

The LEDs are an example of how the New Energy Economy is working for San Antonio.

“At the time of our initial contract with CPS Energy, our local material content was approximately eight percent. Today, 60 percent of our latest generation of products comes from local sources. That’s a significant increase and translates into local dollars staying in the San Antonio regional area,” says Duran.

And, the benefits continue. As part of the new contract, GreenStar plans to donate $5 per light for a total of $150,000 to go towards a local education institution in support of STEM initiatives. Now that’s a gift worth shining a light on.

Making the transition

Over the next three years, customers can expect to see contractors in their neighborhoods replacing old inefficient bulbs with the new LED technology. Until we have replaced every light, customers will notice a mixture of bright white lights and the older yellow or orange high pressure sodium lights.

While the lights are being replaced, we’re working with our owner to define a new LED rate. When San Antonio City Council approves a rate(s) for LED lamps, the new LED charge will be automatically applied for customers who request additional lighting through the All Night Security Light program.

This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. Omar Zambrana on said:

    Good pictures to help understand how these new LED lamps compare to the existing lamps. My concern is what is the cost of a LED lamp? Can you replace LED’s alone or would the entire lamp need to be replaced when half the lamp’s LED’s are out? What is the cost of the LED alone IF they are interchangeable? How do the prices compare to the lamps and bulbs we have in service?

    • Albert on said:

      Hi Omar,

      Although I don’t have the cost of the high pressure sodium bulb vs. the LED, I can tell you that the LED is going to be more expensive but lower in energy costs. For example a 40 watt LED is equivalent to a 100 HPS bulb. We will only be replacing the bulb not the lamp. Also, we won’t be replacing HPS bulbs just to replace them, we will only replace them once they’ve burned out or if a customer request for a change out.

  2. RE: New LED lights on said:

    Dear Albert,
    Thank you for posting this bright idea! I love it, it is a genus idea. I also would like to thank the City Council women of District 3 & 5, Paul and Burley for all working together. I wish I had the opportunity to be part of such a project. I am an environmental science student nearing graduation. I would be honored to shadow train or work with your project management team.

    I thank you all for making San Antonio a brighter place; we all needed that. It not only helps with energy,& cost savings but also for the health of the people bringing spirits up. This helps cheer people up and those with vision issues can see better too!.

    contact me anytime
    Thank you,
    Sonia A. Rocha

    • Albert on said:

      Hi Sonia,

      Thank you for commenting on our blog. We are very excited to have LED become the new standard for our customers and city. They offer great lighting and greater energy savings. Thank you for kinds words and support.

      Have a great day!

      -Albert Cantu

  3. Jay S on said:

    LED lights come in Warm colors, not necessarily yellow but more visually pleasing. There are LED lights that look down right straight from a Horror flick. I hope those do not become the San Antonio standard for street lighting.

    • Albert on said:

      Jay, our team has been working with GreenStar and their streetlights offer energy savings and a bright white light which offers better visibility for drivers and pedestrians. But I see you point, no one wants creepy lighting. I don’t think we’ll have that issue here. -Albert C

  4. New LED lights in the suburbs are too dim on said:

    Dear Albert, I hate to rain on your parade, but from my perspective the change over to LED lights is a miserable failure. The lights downtown are indeed easier on the eyes than the old high pressure sodium vapor lamps and are bright. But, the hang on the wooden pole type lamps outside downtown are way too DIM. CPS apparently fell in love with saving energy and forgot that street lights are supposed to light up the street. I drive on Nacogdoches Rd and O’Connor Rd a lot and when there is oncoming traffic, the headlights drown out the dim LED streetlights and they might as well not be there. Whoever selected the lumens for the new streetlights should be fired.

    Michael R. Plunkett

    plunkettmichael@sbcglobal.net

    • Albert on said:

      Michael,

      Thanks for your feedback. We strive to offer our customers products that we believe will offer greater benefits to them, so I’m sad to hear you don’t think these are working out. I live off Toepperwein and 35 and I think they light up the street very well. However I don’t want to discount your feedback and I would like to send your comments to our team who’s heading up this new process of street lighting. Again we really appreciate your feedback…we can only get better from it. Thank you so much. -Albert

      • plunkettmichael@sbcglobal.net on said:

        Albert, Thanks for your response. I drove down Topperwein Sunday night. It did seem a little brighter, but I think that was because it was a two lane road. I think the lights should have been at least 25% brighter then they would have been more like the lights downtown. Also, your eyes are probably younger than mine. I’m in my late 60s and older eyes need more light to see.

        Michael R. Plunkett

        PS It would be nice if the 3 fields at the top of this email said what information should be entered. I had to try different combinations before I could send my original email.

        • Albert on said:

          Thank you Michael. I’ll have to look into the your suggestion. I didn’t know there was an issue. Thanks for the feedback. -Albert Cantu

    • Albert on said:

      No, the new LED streetlights are part of our New Energy Economy and vision to make San Antonio a hub for energy sustainability companies to bring set up shop here. Companies like GreenStar are creating more jobs and through educational funding, making it possible for continued research and development in energy sustainability. -Albert C

  5. Janet Clere on said:

    I guess I approve in terms of savings and safety, but it makes me sad that it has to come at the expense of yet more light pollution! Looking at the contrasting pictures you’ve posted, it isn’t only the street that is well lit, it’s also the outer walls and windows of the buildings lining the streets. And, of course, the sky… we’re going to have to go much, much further out from the city to even hope to see some stars, much less an event like the Perseid Meteor Showers! Isn’t there some way to focus the light downward where the cars and the crime are, leaving the upper areas alone??

    • Albert on said:

      Hi Janet,

      The LEDs are designed to give more of a bright white and offer more concentration. GreenStar is engineering some great streetlights that offer energy savings and safety of course is always at the forefront. Unfortunately, with a brighter light we sacrifice the beauty of our starry skies. -Albert C

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