MidAmerican Energy to convert +100,000 Iowa streetlights to LED

(MidAmerican Energy)


Nick Fetty | August 20, 2015

MidAmerican Energy recently announced plans to convert more than 100,000 Iowa streetlights to Light Emitting Diode (LED) units over the next 10 years.

The project will  encompass all Iowa cities within MidAmerican’s service territory. Major cities within this territory include: Des Moines, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Council Bluffs, Waterloo, Iowa City and the Quad Cities. Smaller communities also expected to participate in the project include Carroll and Storm Lake, among others.

“This is a true partnership between MidAmerican Energy and our communities as we work together to show our commitment to energy efficiency and cost savings as well as contribute to a greener environment,” said Kathryn Kunert, vice president, business and community development for MidAmerican Energy.

As existing high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs burn out they will be replaced by LED fixtures and bulbs. LEDs have several advantages over HPSs including: lower energy consumption, less frequent maintenance, longer life span, instant-on performance, improved night visibility due to improved color index, reduced spill light, and no mercury, lead or other known disposable hazards. LED units, however, have an initial cost that is about four times that of their HPS counterparts.

Cities and other municipalities eligible for this project must complete MidAmerican Energy’s LED streetlighting agreement. Streetlights owned by municipalities and other utility companies will not be part of the project. The conversion will come at no cost unless municipalities opt for an accelerated installation plan.


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.

Woodbury County considers LED lighting for all county facilities

The Woodbury County Courthouse is one of 60 county buildings that could be equipped with LED lighting. (Ammodramus/Wikimedia)

Nick Fetty | July 2, 2015

Earlier this week the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors approved a study that will look at equipping all county facilities with LED lighting.

The project is expected to cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million  “but about 70% of that cost may be returned in the form of a rebate.” Lighting would need to be installed in 60 county buildings accounting for approximately 450,000 square feet.

Board supervisor Jeremy Taylor proposed the idea last week. Taylor, who also serves as the energy specialist for the Sioux City school district, estimated that the actual cost of the project (after rebates) could be recouped through lower energy costs and other savings within about three years.

“As far as our county buildings with LED lighting, which is highly efficient and is going to be a great use of taxpayer money and ultimately result in rebate potentials that will be good for taxpayers and then for the environment too,” Taylor told KTIV.

Taylor was also behind an LED initiative with the school district which has netted at least $350,000 in savings. If the Woodbury County project moves through it will be the first in Iowa to equip all county buildings with LED lighting.

Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that LED lights can last more than 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs while also emitting significantly less heat. LED lights also do not contain mercury which can be damaging to the environment and pose public health risks when not properly disposed of.

More LED lighting means lower utility bills for livestock farmers

Nick Fetty | September 16, 2014
Livestock farmers are saving money on utility bills by equipping facilities with LED lighting. (Benny Mazur/Flickr)
Hog farmers are saving money on utility bills by equipping facilities with LED lighting. (Benny Mazur/Flickr)

The increased popularity of energy efficient LED (light emitting diodes) lighting has moved to the farm and livestock farmers are saving on utility bills by embracing this trend.

Hog farmers in Iowa have been particularly quick to adopt the new technology. Washington, Iowa-based Sitler’s Supplies has sold more than 10,000 LED fixture and bulb sets in the past 18 months. This is to help accommodate the utility demands of livestock operations which can have up to 600 lights running for more than 16 hours per day.

A 2010 Oklahoma State University study found that cows produced six percent more milk when raised near LED lighting compared to fluorescent lighting. However a University of Florida scientist claims that the evidence is inconclusive and that “[t]he wavelength of light you get and the whiteness from LED should not have an influence.” This was again debated in a 2014 article from LEDs Magazine which suggests LED lighting will “substantially increase the production of eggs, meat, and other protein sources, while dramatically reducing energy use and other input costs.”

Governmental and private entities have also embraced LED lighting in recent years although at $50-60 per fixture the technology is not yet affordable for some farmers. An LED bulb can have a lifespan of about 80,000 hours which is more than double than of a compact florescent.

Iowa farmers have also been proactive in utilizing other energy efficiency measures such as solar panels, geothermal, and methane gas recovery.

Tips for a “green” office

Photo by brianhendrix, Flickr.
Photo by brianhendrix, Flickr.

The Iowa Chamber of Commerce has released a list of tips for making offices more sustainable.

The suggestions include switching to LED light bulbs, using more natural light and sharing a recycling program with other nearby businesses.

Read more about these tips here.

On the Radio: Pocahontas Iowa changes lights to help the environment

An LED streetlight. Photo by meltedplastic, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s episode highlights environmental efforts of Pocahontas, Iowa.

Pocahontas, Iowa might be a small town, but it’s making a big difference for our environment.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus on sustainable communities.

Continue reading

Iowa town replaces street lamps with LEDs

An LED streetlight. Photo by meltedplastic, Flickr.

The small town of Pocahontas, Iowa has replaced all 280 of its street lamps with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting.

The new streetlights shine a bright white, and consume roughly half the electricity of their yellow predecessors. Pocahontas City Administrator Robert Donahoo said that the $190,000 investment will pay for itself within four years.

“The citizens love them,” he said.

For more information on the future of LED lighting, read the full article at Bloomberg.