Sioux Falls residents love LEDs, city plans for more upgrades

A pilot project involving LED streetlights in six neighborhoods throughout Sioux Falls is proving to be very worthwhile, providing energy savings beyond expectations and receiving high praise from residents. The city initiated the project this past spring, replacing 65 high pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights with energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights. The LED lights were expected to last at least 100,000 hours and provide the same amount of light, but use about half as much energy. The city took an extra step and installed the lights on metered circuits in order to track the energy consumption. After reviewing the data from the past four months, Sioux Falls Light and Power Superintendent Jerry Jongeling is pleased with the results.

“We expected to see anywhere between 30 to 50 percent energy reduction with the new LED lights,” said Jongeling. “Our most recent metrics show that we are able to run an LED streetlight for 11 cents per day, in comparison to the 33 cents per day we spend to power a standard  250-watt HPS light. This is a cost savings of more than 50 percent, even before adding in the maintenance expense savings.”

Courtesy City of Sioux Falls
Courtesy City of Sioux Falls
Courtesy City of Sioux Falls
Courtesy City of Sioux Falls

Jongeling isn’t the only person impressed by the LED lights. City officials surveyed residents on the quality and feel of the lights, and 97 percent of respondents feel the street is better lit with the new lights. Ninety-four percent said the new lights make the street and surrounding area safer, and up to 92 percent feel the quality of the LED lights is superior to HPS lights. When asked if they would prefer the new LED lights, 93 percent said yes, and 99 percent said they would recommend expanding the LED lighting program to more neighborhoods throughout town.

“It was important for us to gather feedback from the public about their impression of the quality and aesthetics of the new streetlights,” states Sustainability Coordinator Jessica Lantgen. “Sustainability is all about the triple bottom line: people, environment and economy. In the case of the LED lights, we knew they would consume less electricity, which will in turn promote our environmental initiatives and provide cost savings. However, we wanted to incorporate the social aspect by making sure that residents responded positively to the new lights.”

The city has allocated additional funds in the 2016 proposed budget to expand the LED streetlight territory in Sioux Falls. The city council will approve the budget by the end of September.

The city received a $5,000 energy efficiency grant from Heartland to help supplement a portion of the expenses for the initial pilot project. Heartland awarded the grant as part our energy efficiency program, Power Forward, which provides grants to customers for projects that reduce the city’s energy costs by optimizing electric energy use.