Five years after Indianapolis’ 25-year streetlight moratorium ended, a city collaboration with AES Indiana has resulted in nearly all existing lighting being replaced with LED bulbs and 1,600 new streetlights being installed, the city announced Monday.
“We are excited to celebrate this important milestone in the history of Operation Night Light,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett in a news release. “There are few other City programs that offer so many benefits at once: this program enhances the safety of our neighborhoods, improves the efficiency of taxpayer dollars, and reduces the greenhouse gases emitted into our environment. It is truly a win-win-win for Indianapolis.”
Indianapolis suspended streetlamp installation in 1980 over budget constraints, and didn’t lift the moratorium until 2016, when Hogsett launched his “Operation Night Light.”
In December 2017, the city and AES Indiana, then known as Indianapolis Power and Light, signed a contract to carry out the project.
So far, Indianapolis has retrofitted nearly 27,000 of its traditional, cobra-head streetlights with LED bulbs. The city paid $9.3 million up-front for the retrofits, according to the mayor’s office. AES crews have also installed at least 1,600 new lights of the 2,000 approved so far by the city, many located in the darkest parts of Indianapolis. The project has a goal of installing 2,000 more.
“This program has helped promote equity in neighborhoods, as residential streets and corridors throughout Indianapolis have received better, safer lighting,” said City-County Council President Vop Osili. “Although the conversion stage is nearing its end, we’re looking forward to even more LED lights shining the way for residents and visitors.”
The LED lights are brighter, but use half as much energy, require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan than older high-pressure sodium bulbs. Installation of new streetlights will continue through 2025, as the city continues to plow savings from the retrofitted high-efficiency LEDs back into installations, according to the mayor’s office. Savings have topped $1.9 million thus far.
“As more lights were converted to LED technology, the City captured savings which have been and will continue to be reinvested into new lights,” wrote mayor’s office spokesman Mark Bode in an email Tuesday. “So in the end, the bill will be the same as it was before the initiative; we’ll just have better lights, and more of them.”
After installations are complete and if Indianapolis saves enough money through retrofits, the administration hopes to put LED bulbs in the decorative lights around town, according to the project webpage.