Despite LED streetlights’ superior performance in pilot installations, the city of Chula Vista, California, has initiated a 4,600 streetlight replacement program using induction technology. A $2,000,000 low interest loan from the California Energy Commission will fund the project.
Chula Vista’s decision was driven purely by economic reasons, not by technology or quality of light. Robert LeClair, of Chula Vista public works, managed a streetlight technology assessment program which compared LEDs to induction and existing high pressure sodium streetlights. According to LeClair, “The performance of the LED streetlights was far superior to that of the induction lights.” However, because of the higher capital costs of LED technology and—more importantly—the lack of a San Diego Gas and Electric rate tier structure, the city council moved to choose induction streetlights. Like a number of utilities across the U.S., San Diego Gas and Electric has not created a rate structure that reflects the dramatically lower energy consumption and costs of LED streetlights.
The Chula Vista project will replace existing 100 watt HPS streetlights with 55 watt induction streetlights.
LeClair would eventually like to see Chula Vista use LED technology in the remaining city streetlights and in any new roadway lighting. “The city now requires that any new fixtures or improvements are LEDs,” said LeClair. In the meantime, the new induction lights will be placed in neighborhoods with no photometric performance requirements.