Small Town, Big Savings with LED

The town of Richmond Heights, Ohio, has a little more than 10,000 residents and a whole lot of financial problems. Luckily, Richmond Heights also has the solution to their troubles with LED lights. A solution that will save money they don’t have and increase public safety at the same time.

In 2012, the city’s bill for street and traffic lighting was over $118,000, and they were forced to come up with creative ways to save money. They tasked Police Chief Gene Rowe with the duty of personally turning off every other traffic light in town in an attempt to achieve some of the savings they needed. The chief systematically shut down the lights in a pattern of one on, one off throughout the small town. A total of 54 of the 122 traffic signals were turned off in this move to save money, which is a traffic nuisance and public safety danger to say the least. The total savings of the move amounted to a mere $26,000, leaving lots of fat to cut in the budget still.

City Council of Richmond Heights, Ohio. The cash-strapped town voted to replace its traffic and street lights with LED as a cost-saving measure. A grant will cover part of the cost of the retrofit. Savings are expected to be from 60 to 80 percent.

City Council of Richmond Heights, Ohio. The cash-strapped town voted to replace its traffic and street lights with LED as a cost-saving measure. A grant will cover part of the cost of the retrofit. Savings are expected to be from 60 to 80 percent.

Meanwhile, Councilperson Eloise Henry couldn’t help but think how LED might be a better solution to their problem, not just for the street lights, but for traffic signals too. “I’ve thought this would be a good direction to consider for quite some time,” she said.

At a recent vote, the rest of the council agreed with Ms. Henry, and so the decision was made to upgrade all of the street lights as well as all of the traffic signals in town with LED-powered fixtures. The town will have to come up with almost $20,000, with a grant covering the remainder of the $38,000 total price tag. They will have to fully fund the project and then wait for grant funds to come through before being reimbursed. But no one seems to mind with the benefits the project has to offer Richmond Heights.

The new lights are expected to arrive within 45 days and installations are planned to begin immediately  thereafter. Once work begins, the harsh and unpredictable winter weather may cause delays, but installations are expected to be completed within eight weeks. That’s when the savings kick in and the city will begin to see returns almost immediately in reduced electric bills and maintenance costs.  Avoiding traffic light bulb changes can save big money on its own. The town pays a maintenance service company over $100 to replace a burned out light bulb currently. Reducing the need for this one expense could save taxpayers considerably. But then there is also the energy savings to consider.  Richmond Heights expects to reduce their street lighting costs by 60 to 80 percent. This means that their current street lighting expenditures of $118,000 will be reduced by over $99,600. Better than that, they will be able to turn on all of their traffic signals and make the roads a safer place to be while saving tons of money with their new LED lights.

Ultimately, the savings will benefit everyone in town. The payback period for the LED conversion project is only one year, so councilman Mark Alexander said every year the city delays on the project, it is passing up on significant cost-savings. There is yet another reason why moving forward with the LED conversion project makes sense. “It’s going to help us make further improvements for our budget,” said Alexander.

This is one small town that has been an icon of forward thinking since its incorporation in 1918. They chose a town motto and they live by it still today: “The City With the Forward Look.” Their forward- looking leaders have set the city on a path to success by making the move to long lasting, low maintenance, energy efficient LED lighting to fulfill their public safety and budgetary needs.

To read this article, in its entirety, you can view it here.