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, 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.

(8) comments

Sam Finn

Can someone clarify (or, as necessary, correct)? The plan approved at the July 28 Governing Body meeting was for 2,700 K on residential streets and 3,000 K for major roadways. That plan had >no< 4,000 K lights.

Has there been a change? If so, has the change been reported?

david cartwright

Cost-savings will fund the project. Kind of like Biden's programs. Zero cost. Then, the bills come due and the savings vanish. Meanwhile, the city will be lit like a used car lot at night.

Jerry Appel

I guess you should go back to your kerosene lamps. LED systems used four times less energy than incandescent lamps. Many street lights are Mercury vapor with much shorter lifespans compared to LED lamps. In short, switching is a win-win: less maintenance, less energy, and less toxicity.

Robert Fields

Hey Jerry, the savings are even better than that — It’s slightly over a factor of seven for a 100W equivalent bulb (14W LED) but can go all the way to 40 when changing out lamps like the birdcage incandescents. The birdcage incandescent lamps are beautiful but I swapped a string of 15x 40W birdcage incandescents on our patio for 1W LED bulbs with that nice orange color temperature. Went from 600W mostly as heat to all of 15W and the light is just slightly brighter (an added benefit) and just as beautiful.

LED lighting is cheap now. Cost savings actually do cover the costs of swapping and as energy in general gets more expensive, the savings will rack up even faster while protecting the budget.

Hopefully folks like Mr. Cartwright will wake up to the realities of getting with the program. Invest a little now to save a lot later.

Harvey Wright

Thank you to the city for adjusting color temperatures based on community feedback!

Robert Fields

Switching to LED lighting is a great way to cut energy costs. Good on Santa Fe for doing this!

Stefanie Beninato

I don't see anything for the Northeast side of the city getting replacement lights. Is So Capitol and other NE neighborhoods being left out?

Harvey Wright

Welcome to the discussion.

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