Why the City Council in Honolulu Restored Funding for LED Street Lights

What are LED lights? Some people might associate this latest buzz word with “environmentally friendly,” but few may realize the full benefits of LED lighting.

Light-emitting diode (LED) is not a new idea; rather, it has been around for decades.

You might have most commonly seen LED lights used as single bulbs in electronics, pens, or Christmas lights.

With the advancement of technology, LED has expanded to ‘clustering’ small bulbs for practical applications in a standard household light bulb. LED lights help to conserve energy and are longer-lasting and better for the environment than standard lighting.

In an initiative first introduced by Mayor Kirk Caldwell, the City and County of Honolulu plans to replace all 51,700 of Oahu’s city-owned street lights with LED lights that will save the City $3 million a year in energy and maintenance costs.

Installation of the new lights will be privately funded through a private-public partnership without investment of taxpayer funds.

Besides cutting costs, the LED lights will provide a brighter, whiter light that will cover a greater percentage of the road to make it safer for pedestrians and vehicles.

The lighting is also directed downwards on the roadway and sidewalk thus reducing light pollution into homes and businesses. Lastly, LED lights help to cut down on the City’s carbon emissions.

Why does this matter? To put it simply, energy conservation through LED lights will help to save money and reduce the City’s environmental impact.

If you need more proof, just look at several other cities like Los Angeles and Buenos Aires that have already switched to LED street lights and have seen major benefits.

In Los Angeles, the city replaced over 140,000 street lights with LED technology. Within a year, energy use had been reduced by 63.1 percent. In Buenos Aires, LED lighting has saved 670 million tons of carbon release per year and has saved 50 percent of the city’s energy consumption.

Here in Hawaii in 2013, a test pilot program of LED lights was rolled out in Mililani, Manoa, Waialae-Kahala, and Nuuanu to replace 180 streetlights. Successful results from these pilot programs triggered plans from the Department of Design and Construction to install LED lights across Oahu by 2017.

In supporting this initiative, I have fought to restore the needed $80,000 in funds that were cut in initial budget rounds to ensure that this program succeeds.

With all of the great benefits of LED lighting, I believe this is the best decision for Oahu and will provide the maximum value for the safety of our citizens and tax payers.

If you are interested in knowing more about the LED lighting project, please join us at the full Council meeting on June 4 where we will finalize the budget for the next fiscal year, or you can contact my office at 808-768-5004.

I have already seen the major difference these lights have made within our pilot program, and I am excited to see the full implementation of the project in the next couple of years.