City News

Posted on: October 16, 2017

City Seeks to Increase Efficiency, Innovation & Safety with Use of LED Street Lighting

LED streetlights

The City Council will review and discuss a proposal at its October 16 meeting to convert street lights in Portland from metal halide and high pressure sodium to LED technology, which has long been a goal of the Council and City in order to reduce costs, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. The Sustainability and Transportation Committee identified this project as a priority this year. City staff gave an update on the project to the Finance Committee during its September 21 meeting following a successful pilot installation on Cedar and Casco Streets. On October 12, the Finance Committee recommended forwarding the project to the full Council for approval. Staff has worked with its partners TEN Connected Solutions and Bernstein Shur to purchase the street lights from Central Maine Power and to develop a conversion plan that includes many smart city technologies in addition to the new streetlights.


Following Council approval, the City is prepared to begin implementation of phase one, which includes $4 million for the replacement of all overhead street lights that are attached to utility poles throughout the city, and some smart city technologies including public Wi-Fi locations, exterior lighting at City Hall, athletic field lighting improvements, and a pilot project for decorative lighting. The conversion offers significant energy savings, a reduction in street lighting costs by about $1 million for the City, and will improve the overall quality of lighting and safety along streets. Staff is proposing to finance the conversion over the two phases of the project. Phase two, also $4 million, includes additional upgrades to street lights, controls for all decorative lights, and additional smart city technologies including more public Wi-Fi locations, intelligent traffic controls, and environmental sensors.


LED streetlights offer several advantages over older lighting technologies:

  • Energy Efficient -- LED lights can reduce electricity consumption for street lighting by 75%.
  • Better Light -- LED lighting allows people to see colors more clearly, which makes it easier to recognize people and objects on the streets and sidewalks.
  • Reduced Glare --  It is easy to aim LEDs to shine light where it should be and to avoid shining it where it is unwanted.
  • Long Life -- LED lighting has an extremely long life which reduces overall maintenance costs.

The City is specifying lights with a warm color temperature of 3000K to avoid the metallic blue light associated with some LEDs. This follows the recommendations of the International Dark Sky Association and the American Medical Association.


In Maine, street lights are typically owned and maintained by the local electric utility. Portland’s lights are currently owned by Central Maine Power. A state law enacted in 2013 now allows municipalities to purchase the utility owned street lighting equipment in their communities and to replace it with energy efficient LED lighting.


In October 2016, the City issued a Request for Proposals soliciting interested vendors to assist the City with the conversion and implementation of smart city technologies. TEN Connected Solutions of Pittsburgh, PA offered the most advantageous proposal. Staff and partners from TEN Connected Solutions and Bernstein Shur have worked with CMP to develop a customer owned street lighting agreement in conformance with PUC rules that will allow the City to take ownership of the CMP-owned lighting equipment within City limits. This includes the lamps, fixtures, and mast arms that attach the lights to the poles. The agreement also transfers ownership of CMP owned poles that are used for street lighting purposes only. The cost to purchase the street lighting assets from CMP is approximately $590,000, which was allocated for in previous CIP project funding rounds. 

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