Wyoming Puts LED in Highway Lighting to Squeeze Energy, Maintenance Costs

AASHTO Journal, 24 October 2014

WYDOT worker upgrading a lighting fixture.
Photo courtesy WYDOT/OpTerra Energy Services.

Beginning in Casper but with plans to soon move across all of Wyoming, the state Department of Transportation is putting energy-efficient LED lighting in all its highway fixtures over the coming year.

WYDOT looks to recoup enough savings from lower utility bills to pay off a 15-year bond that pays the upfront costs. “That’s money that won’t be going to utility companies, and that will be available for other uses,” said WYDOT State Field Operations Engineer Mark Eisenhart.

And it will reap further benefits of lower maintenance costs because LED bulbs should last much longer than lights they replace. “Our maintenance of that roadway lighting is going to be dramatically less,” Eisenhart said, “because now, instead of someone having to get up there and change out those bulbs maybe every year or every other year, we’ll only have to do that every 10 to 15 years, depending on how the LED bulbs hold up.”

At a cost of $10.7 million that includes some efficiency upgrades to WYDOT buildings, the program will change out lights in 5,267 fixtures, including high mast tower lighting at interchanges and rest areas, roadside and area lighting, parking area fixtures and lights at road closure gates.

Once completed, WYDOT expects to receive $180,000 in rebates from power companies for the lower demand it places on utility infrastructure, and save $690,000 in lower annual bills because ongoing electricity use should be almost 40 percent lower.

An earlier phase of WYDOT’s energy efficient program, which began in 2012, focused on improving energy use of WYDOT buildings and was also funded with a 15-year bond. It netted $145,000 in power company rebates and last year cut the department’s power bills and operating costs by more than $215,000.

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