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DOE Consortium Offers Financial Tool To Calculate Impact Of Switching To LED Street Lighting


SEATTLE - The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium today released an economic cost-benefit analysis tool to help cities, utilities, and other organizations estimate the costs and impacts of switching to street lighting that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Called the Retrofit Financial Analysis Tool, the Excel-based tool was developed in collaboration with the Clinton Climate Initiative and is available for download at Users input data on the relevant variables for their particular application - such as the incumbent technology, quantities, phase-in period, prevailing electricity and labor rates, sales tax, installation cost, loan interest rate, and rebates - to get a detailed analysis that includes annualized energy-cost savings, maintenance savings, greenhouse gas reductions, and simple payback.

This information is useful not only for planning and budgeting purposes, but also in applying for financing. In a market where the cost of LED street lighting has dropped more than 25 percent in the past year alone, it can help cities accurately evaluate costs in today's dollars.

Ranking among the biggest fixed costs for cities, streetlights are on all night long, 365 days a year. The estimated 26.5 million streetlights in the U.S. consume as much electricity each year as 1.9 million households, and generate greenhouse gas emissions equal to that produced by 2.6 million cars.

Solid-state lighting has the potential to save more energy than traditional lighting technologies and can reduce maintenance costs, while improving visibility and customer service.

"Converting our nation's streetlights to LED technology not only could reduce our energy consumption significantly, but also improve the quality of illumination," said Consortium Director Edward Smalley of Seattle City Light. "The Retrofit Financial Analysis Tool will make it easier for cities, utilities, and others to analyze the cost benefit of LED street lighting, by providing specific key information on costs and return on investment."

The tool is based on one that the Clinton Climate Initiative developed for analyzing cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Beijing. The original tool required someone from the climate initiative to run it, due to its complexity. The Consortium teamed with the climate initiative to develop a simplified, more user-friendly version that cities could use on their own. The tool can be used by municipalities and utilities alike, whether they purchase and install their own streetlights or use outside resources through a bid item contract. To facilitate its use, the tool is accompanied by an instructional video and a sample analysis.

DOE created the Consortium in 2010 to educate and provide some consistency around energy-efficient lighting many cities were pursuing, particularly the evaluation of LED streetlight products. Municipal efforts often are the result of block grants and energy mandates, and the Consortium provides an easy way for cities to navigate multiple sources of information in just one stop. The new financial tool complements the Model Specification for LED Roadway Luminaires that was published by the Consortium in October.

To download the financial tool or to view a "how-to" instructional video, see To learn more about the Consortium, visit

More From 3/19/2012 on FacilitiesNet