Xcel Energy, a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company, is monitoring performance of GE's LED street lights for two years and intends to use the data to develop an LED program with each state it serves. These include Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. The data will help the utility decide which LED lighting products provide the most benefit to customers, how to price LED rate options, how much maintenance is required and how frequently it should be performed. It also will document customers' perception of the LED fixtures. The utility maintains approximately 500,000 Xcel Energy and customer-owned street lights in all eight states.
The utility chose West St. Paul, located just south of Minnesota's capital of St. Paul, as a pilot location because of its proximity to Xcel Energy's service center. Additionally, its street light distribution, fixture types and adjacent vegetation allows it to illustrate a “real-world application” of LED street lights.
“We've been looking at LED fixtures as a source to light up roadways,” said Ed Bieging, project coordinator for Xcel Energy's outdoor lighting department. “We wanted to be sure not to put in a product that is inferior or that we'd have to make adjustments to. In recent years, we saw advances in technology—from light distribution patterns, designs of fixtures, and heat-sink efficiency—and we're really excited for what GE has to offer with the scalable Cobrahead fixture.
“We've received a lot of feedback from municipalities where we have street lights, and they have always asked when we were going to offer LED options. Our response has been that we weren't confident with the technology and wanted to wait until it was better. It is better today.”
GE Lighting worked with Xcel Energy in identifying an ideal fixture for the pilot program. Chosen was the Evolve LED Scalable Cobrahead Street Lighting fixture to replace 530 high-pressure sodium (100-, 150- and 250-watt) fixtures. The Cobrahead fixture recently was awarded “Best in Class” for roadway lighting in the 2012 Next Generation Luminaires™ (NGL) Competition and winner of the 2013 LightFair International Innovation Award category for Parking, Roadway and Area Luminaires. Significantly reducing energy use compared to traditional high-intensity (HID) street lighting systems, it is offered in four sizes to meet a variety of municipal codes.
Results & Benefits
“These new LED systems have improved the quality of light that our residents rely on to navigate our streets at night,” said West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller. “With the help of Xcel Energy and GE Lighting, our community is seeing the promise of a new technology that can yield significant savings. The preliminary data is promising, and other cities—large or small—should keep a keen eye on the results."
GE Lighting anticipates the switch to provide annual energy savings of about 45 percent.
Many municipal customers are seeking ways to reduce costs, and Xcel Energy is sharing recommendations that include the ways LED fixtures affect operations and maintenance dollars. Currently, Xcel Energy has a five-year preventative maintenance cycle in place to proactively replace lamps in the street lights on its system.
“If the Evolve LED fixtures work as expected, we won't have to check as frequently,” said Sylvia Rossi, a scheduler with Xcel Energy. “We can go longer between intervals.”