St. Paul experiments with LED streetlights

The lights are a little whiter and a little brighter in part of St. Paul as part of an experiment with LED streetlights.

The city's environmental policy director, Anne Hunt, says it is experimenting with the new lights because they are greener, last longer and cheaper to operate.

Paul is following Austin, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska and Ann Arbor, Michigan, in installing the lights. A few smaller Minnesota cities have also tried them.

As an example of the cost savings, the city switched to LEDs in traffic signals and walk signs in 2003. The move saved the city $180,000 in electricty alone.

The downsides of LED lights are the sometimes too-bright white light and the start-up cost.

The current high-pressure sodium lamps cost about $70 each and last about 24,000 hours, versus about $450 for the LEDs, which last 50,000 hours.

The city says changing a light bulbs in a street lamp costs the city between $50 and $100 in labor.

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