It was about one year ago when Lancaster began a project to improve both traffic and pedestrian safety and reduce operational expenses. The first step was to acquire new streetlights from Southern California Edison (SCE) and begin converting them from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting to light emitting diode, commonly known as LED lighting. And it worked. Now, Lancaster is the first municipality in SCE territory to have such safety lighting. The idea could set an example for other cities to follow.

As of April, all 17,825 streetlights in Lancaster have transferred ownership from SCE and the conversion to HPS to LED fixtures is reportedly well underway. The latest locations that have been refitted are 30th Street West (from Avenue I to Avenue K), 10th Street West (from Avenue I to Avenue M), Avenue K (from 35th Street East to 62nd Street West), Sierra Highway (from Avenue G-12 to Avenue M), and Challenger Way from Avenue I to Avenue L (currently in process. More than 1,600 LED lights have been installed to date.

“We knew from the beginning that we are doing what was best for our community,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Acquiring our streetlights and converting them to LED just made good sense, both economically and sustainably.”

By replacing the standard HPS fixtures with LED, city officials report that about one-third less energy will be used. Also, the LED lights last a about five times longer than traditional HPS fixtures. The new lights are more appropriate for residential neighborhoods because they cut down on annoying “light pollution” into homes. The resulting reduction in maintenance costs may allow the city to add greater support to other needed programs.

Full completion of the streetlight conversion program is expected in October with officials anticipating nearly $250,000 in savings each year in energy costs. The LED lights were purchased from Lancaster-based manufacturer BYD (Build Your Dreams) most famous for manufacturing electric buses.