New downtown LED lights will save city money

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Street lamps in front of City Hall on 3rd Street. Photo courtesy of the City of Wilmington.
Street lamps in front of City Hall on N. 3rd Street. Photo courtesy of the City of Wilmington.

The City of Wilmington has finished installing new energy- and cost-efficient streetlights downtown.

Approximately 120 lights on North 3rd Street, Front Street north of Chestnut Street and on Chestnut and Princess Streets between 2nd and 4th Streets have been converted to LED lights. LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are more environmentally friendly than other incandescent light sources because they use less energy and last longer. The city, which owns the streetlights downtown, is also evaluating other areas for future conversions. The upgrades, both planned and already completed, are funded by cost savings realized.

Streetlights will also be converted in other parts of Wilmington. Crews from Duke Energy Progress, which leases over 8,000 lights to the city (including those located in city parks), have already converted more than 2,500 of these to LEDs and plans to upgrade the rest in phases over the next few years.

The first phase, which encompasses all lights west of 17th Street between Raleigh and Red Cross Streets, has been completed. Work is underway on the second phase, which includes streetlights west of South College Road. The remainder of the lights will be converted in the third and final phase of the project.

According to the city, switching to LED streetlights could translate into more than $200,000 annually in savings. In terms of energy efficiency, it would mean an electricity savings of nearly 900,000 kilowatt hours, which produces the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions as 68,946 gallons of gas.