Santa Fe Public Works Director Regina Wheeler said the city is making progress on converting more than 5,500 streetlights to energy-efficient LED bulbs as part of a plan to rein in energy costs.
According to a presentation to the city’s Public Works and Utilities Committee on Monday, 478 lights have been converted since Oct. 18, when the project began in earnest. In the first segment of the project, crews are switching bulbs in southwestern Santa Fe, an area that has 1,650 lights.
Wheeler said the city should start realizing cost savings on the $2.75 million project in December, when the first debt payment is due.
A city memo said the designs were expected to reduce energy consumption by more than 60 percent and reduce the overall light budget by over 50 percent. The energy savings will pay for the project, the memo said.
“This is always how it was planned to go,” Wheeler said. “I think we are on the right track.”
According to santafeled.com, a city website created to track the project, the next part of the city to be addressed is the downtown area, before crews move on to the southeastern portion of the city. The northwestern side will be the last segment to be converted.
Each segment will take about two weeks to 1½ months to complete, according to the website.
The conversion is being handled by Dalkia Energy Solutions, which was picked by the city in February to complete the transition. The project was put on hold for three months while the city held a community engagement campaign to gather more input. The conversion had come under criticism from residents who feared the new bulbs would create too much light pollution, threatening the city’s night sky.
A design was finalized in May with 3,000-Kelvin lights for residential streets and 4,000-Kelvin lights for large city streets and major roadways, as well as dimming and shielding technology.
The project is part of a $17.2 million initiative to install energy-efficient upgrades across city government buildings in a push to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. The city also plans to install solar panels and replace indoor lighting in city buildings with LEDs.