The Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains nearly 22,900 street and safety lights around Sacramento County. Maintenance of the older lights is an expensive procedure which has led DOT in recent years to look for energy efficient ways to cut costs and ensure safer viewing at night. A year ago, DOT embarked on a large scale effort to upgrade our street lights. Exchanging older fixtures have proven to be a money and energy saver for the County’s power bill. In less than a year, nearly nine thousand streetlights were replaced bringing improved lighting and energy savings to unincorporated portions of the County.
For this recent upgrade, DOT turned to Tim Paxin's Pacific Excavation to install more efficient LED street lights. The total project cost was $3 million. To pay for this project, the County received a loan from the California Energy Commission in January 2016. As part of the loan agreement, Sacramento County must pay back the loan, with a one percent interest rate, using only the energy savings. The County expects to save $287,600 per year, and at that rate the loan is expected to be repaid in 12 years. Since these new fixtures have a life span of fifteen years, after the loan is paid off, the County will be able to use the energy savings towards other streetlight maintenance.
This isn’t the first lighting upgrade by the Department of Transportation. So far more than 20,000 streetlights around unincorporated Sacramento County have been retrofitted. More than eleven-thousand were energy hogging lights made of high pressure sodium and mercury vapor. DOT has tapped Federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, SMUD Energy Efficiency Incentive Funds, and a zero- interest SMUD loan to pay for previous projects. Those upgrades have already earned the County SMUD Energy Rebates of $372,000 and a total energy savings of nearly $800,000 per year in recent years.