Iowa City switching to LED for streetlights


Near the corner of Burlington Street and Gilbert Street facing east. (Stephen Cummings/Flickr)
Near the corner of Burlington Street and Gilbert Street in Iowa City, looking east. (Stephen Cummings/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | July 9, 2015

The City of Iowa City has made an agreement with MidAmerican Energy to convert approximately 4,000 street and pedestrian lights into LED fixtures over the next four years.

The project will include 2,600 lights within city limits as well as an additional 1,400 lights owned and maintained by the city. LED, or light-emitting diode, fixtures can last 25 times longer and be 75 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs, according to data from the Department of Energy. LEDs also emit less heat and offer a brighter, whiter light compared traditional bulbs.

Funding for the project comes from more than $500,000 the city overpaid to MidAmerican Energy to power streetlights between 2004 and 2014. The money was reimbursed to the city last year and was earmarked for the LED project. The city has also budgeted an additional $50,000 for the project this year and has set aside $75,000 annually for the next four years.

This project is the latest of several sustainability initiatives the city has perused in recent years. Between 1999 and 2005 LED lighting was installed on traffic signals which cut electricity usage in half, according to the city’s website. Other environmentally sustainable initiatives include a wetland restoration project and efforts to capture methane gas at the landfill.

The 2014 Sustainability Report outlines several recent efforts including a climate adaptation study, a wastewater treatment facility expansion and upgrade, and a partnership with the the University of Iowa’s Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities. The report also lays out goals for 2015 including a local food initiative, a waste reduction project, and a bike share program.

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