Soon the streetlights, which formerly cast a cloudy yellow glow, will be glowing like the moon.
So explained Ed Ebrahamian, Director of the Bureau of Street Lighting.
He was on Alcove Street in North Hollywood early this morning with Councilman Paul Krekorian and members of the street maintenance crew to install a new LED light into an existing streetlamp as a symbolic way of alerting all of Los Angeles of this great shift in street lighting.
Ebrahamian has been leading Los Angeles to be one of the first cities in the world to switch from the former high-pressure sodium streetlights to new LED lights, the color and intensity of which are designed to match that of moonlight.
“When we wanted to start the program,we had to figure the color temperature of the LEDS," said Ebrahamian. “The old fixtures had a yellowish glow. We decided to go with a white color, but 4000 Calvin – which is the same color temperature as the moon. It’s soft on the eyes, and all of us have seen the moon glow all of our lives, so we decided to match it, and it’s very nice.”
Not only do the LED lights require far less power to illuminate, thus saving vast energy costs, they also cut down significantly on light pollution, so that the evening sky of stars will be more visible than ever.
Krekorian asked Ebrahamian many specific questions about the usage and impact of this technology, and admitted that he was personally impressed by how well the new system is taking shape.
“It’s been a source of great pride that we are universally acknowledged for doing extraordinarily well with street-lighting, and setting a standard,” said Krekorian. “This is a project that has been a great interest of mine, since we’ve done so much work on sustainability and this is saving the city money up front in terms of projected cost, and it’s saving money in terms of maintenance. And we’re saving an unbelievable amount of electricity just to keep our streets lit. The amount of greenhouse gas we are saving is equivalent to taking 6,000 cars off the road.”
Ebrahamian explained that Los Angeles is leading not only the country, but the entire world, in implementing this technology.
“We are the first in the whole world,” he said. “We have followed this technology for ten years, and four years ago we put this together. We are setting the standard for the whole country.”
Also impressive is the price tag for all these new lights, which is much lower than expected.
“ A lot of other municipalities have been surprised at the pricing we get because of our volume of purchase,” he said. “We have the second largest municipal lighting program in the whole country, so we have a lot of purchasing power, and we are putting that to work.”
White light, he explained, is far preferable to other hues.
“The entire country is following our lead on this color. Under white light, you can see much better. The police department likes the white color also because it helps them do their job. They thought we had increased the light five times, because they could see so much better. But we didn’t, it’s the white color. It seems to create much brighter visibility.
“This also controls ambient light greatly, and will make a significant change. For a hundred years, we’ve used lamp technology. This works on many points of light, and it’s much easier to control the LED lights.
“In terms of maintenance, it’s far better as well. The previous lamps required service every four years; these don’t need to be changed for 15 to 20 years."
In five years, this project aims to convert 140,000 sodium lamps to LED, making this the largest LED lighting replacement in the world.
Also, the new technology alerts the Bureau itself when it needs service.
"You don't need to rely on citizens anymore to let you know it's out," he said. "The notice is downloaded into the system so crew leaders see it first thing in the morning. Which makes me happy. It's a great system."