Yakima to replace 4,000 streetlights with LEDs

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima is finding a new way to shine the light. Thousands of streetlights are on tap to be replaced. The plan is to switch older bulbs to LEDs. KIMA learned it will take a lot of money upfront, but save in the long run.

You might have seen them already. LED streetlights in downtown Yakima and other parts of the city. About 400 so far.

This year, Yakima's taking LEDs citywide. The city plans to replace some 4,000 high pressure sodium streetlights.

"We've changed very few in the residential areas so it's almost all the residential lights would be changed out."

Joe Rosenlund is Yakima's Streets and Traffic Operations Manager. He says the new lamps would benefit the community.

"We're getting better light. We're saving a lot of energy, saving a lot of money, saving a lot of maintenance costs."

Yakima budgets more than $300,000 a year to keep the streetlights shining. Rosenlund says Yakima would only need half that with LEDs everywhere. He says the bulbs save 50 percent more energy and last five times longer than the ones being replaced.

Swapping out the old lights would cost Yakima roughly $1.5 million. Rosenlund expects the money to come from three sources: s state grant for up to $400,000, a rebate from Pacific Power for another $400,000 and the rest could come from a bond. That would be paid for with savings from the new lights.

David Vancleve is a civil engineer. He's says the city is moving in the right direction.

"I think it's definitely a step forward. It's where everybody's going to go. In 20 years, everybody will be there."

Yakima plans to hire a consultant to audit the city's streetlight inventory, calculate savings from the switch and choose a contractor to install the lights. A contract with the consultant waits for City Council approval.

Rosenlund says the work to change the lights won't start until at least the fall.