Retrofitting the Streetlights in Boise, Idaho

You are here

Retrofitting the Streetlights in Boise, Idaho
Boise, Idaho is using an energy efficiency grant to retrofit hundreds of streetlights throughout the downtown area with energy-efficient LED bulbs, which will save money and improve safety and local quality of life.
Clay Young, LeAnn Oliver, David Bieter, Neal Oldemeyer
Energy Department Video

Boise is an old pioneer town.  It’s fairly isolated and it has, you know, kind of a pioneering spirit still about it.  People are very independent, very outdoorsy.  It’s a smallish metropolitan area but it’s kind of a hip metropolitan area.  It’s a very, very neat place to live and work.  And it’s also becoming, you know, very environmentally focused because one of our biggest assets is the environment that surrounds and people, you know, enjoy it immensely.

Boise is a great example of a city that did one thing – replacing their streetlights – that has three benefits:  It improves the quality of life, it has environmental benefits by using less energy and it saves money for the city.

We’ve just been overjoyed, frankly.  That’s the effect of this project.  I’ve never seen a better project, a better use of funds.  And those funds were leveraged many times over any federal program I’ve ever been involved in.  It’s the best I’ve seen in the time I’ve been here.

LED fundamentally – what it was designed or invented to do is essentially to put out a significant amount of light with a significantly smaller energy footprint.  The trick is, how do you make a relatively low-cost product that, in fact, does the job?  That’s fundamentally what we had to put in place here in the city of Boise.

One of the beauties of this project is it’s a project that could happen all year long.  And so in our down season particularly, we were able to retain and even add electricians and apprentices to work on this project.

We could not have accomplished the streetlight retrofit without this grant money.  We planned for it for a long period of time, looked for and knew about the technology, wanted to implement the technology, couldn’t afford it.  And so this created an opportunity to invest and now the taxpayers over the next 15 years are going to save up to $1.2 million, so we can continue to put that money back into other, similar kinds of projects.

The work that the DOE and the federal government has done around getting people to think about energy efficiency is extremely important because traditionally, cities in particular and utility companies are very conservative when it comes to investing in technology.  And the fact that the government has been fairly focused on stimulating people to think differently about their energy footprint, the technologies they use, et cetera has been an important catalyst in this whole category of energy efficiency and energy technology. 

To become part of the dialogue:  That’s probably the most important thing that’s actually come out of all of this, is to really stimulate the activity around getting people changing their thinking about what we use in terms of technology and how we reverse this problem.