Residents learn about LED streetlight plan
Yuma holds first of 3 open houses Thursday
With the Yuma Public Works Department preparing to replace about 7,500 streetlights beginning in November, the city invited residents to learn more about the transition by attending one of three open house meetings.
The city held the first one Thursday at the Yuma Readiness and Community Center. The other meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Yuma Public Works Services Building, 155 W. 14th St., and Oct. 26, at the Yuma Civic Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive.
At the first open house, city officials revealed the results of a field study conducted by the Public Works Department. The city said 73 percent of residents in the test areas preferred the light-emitting diode lighting, better known as LEDs, that replaced the high-pressure sodium street lights previously in place.
The city changed the streetlights in
three subdivisions and four intersections and asked residents for their feedback. Seventy-three percent gave positive comments with a few expressing concerns.
Residents who favored the LEDs pointed out that the light was more true-to-life than the amber light reflected by the current sodium fixtures. Another person noted sodium lights did not give sufficient light to be able to see down the street, as the LEDs seem to do.
According to Pete Montalvo, public works manager, one gentleman disliked the brighter lights because thieves would be able to see him better. Another man said it didn’t matter whether the lights were darker or brighter, he would still get robbed.
Ironically, one of the reasons officials cite for changing the streetlights to LEDs is for improved public safety, pointing out the LEDs distribute light more evenly along the roadway, increasing visibility in dark spots between street poles, rather than solely dumping light directly below streetlights as sodium lights currently do. The new fixtures will feature a 3,000 kelvin LED standard for streetlights.
Another resident asked “why fix it if it’s not broken?” However, Montalvo said the situation does need fixing because the currently technology is changing so rapidly that highpressure sodium lights are becoming obsolete, making it harder for the city to find replacement parts. Bigger cities are buying out the stock just as the parts manufacturer is slowing down production. The city currently replaces about 80 sodium lights every year.
The entire country is slowly changing to LEDs, “not just Yuma,” Montalvo said, likening it to the time when the entire nation changed from radio to television.
Another reason the city has decided to convert to LEDs is to save more than $5.4 million in energy and maintenance over the next 10 years. LEDs last longer, use far less electricity and are less maintenance intensive, according to information prepared by the city.
The city estimates that at full implementation, it will save more than $100,000 per year in maintenance costs and more than $250,000 a year in energy costs.
The cost to replace the city’s 7,500 streetlights to LEDs will be about $3.7 million, which will come from the city’s road tax fund. The contractor, Siemens Industry, will perform the conversion work in about nine months and “properly” dispose of the existing lights. Each fixture will take about 45 minutes to change. Existing poles, bases and underground cabling will remain intact.
The work will take place Mondays through Fridays during daytime hours and may include some weekends. Work on roadways with heavy traffic may require weekdays between 6:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
The work will not require road closures. While crews work, sidewalks and curbside parking spaces will be temporarily restricted. The work will not affect utility power to adjacent properties, the city said.
Work zone maps and schedules will be available on the city’s website, www.yumaaz.gov.
‘Smart city’ deal
Paul Brierley, who lives outside the city’s limits but frequently goes into town, attended the Thursday open house to learn more about the project. He liked that the conversion would save money on energy and maintenance over time. But what really intrigued him is the “smart city” deal attached to the project.
The city entered into an agreement with any COMM Holdings Corp., which promises to bring a $10 million investment to Yuma in the way of a citywide high-speed wireless network, lighting control and improved public safety and security through the use of cameras in exchange for use of the photocell sockets on the streetlights.
This would make Yuma the first “smart city” in the state and the first one to implement the project community wide in the nation.
“To make Yuma the first smart city is pretty neat,” Brierley said.
The any COMM wireless network nodes will be simultaneously installed at the same time the streetlights are converted to LEDs. The devices are capable of bringing in 5G and 6G whenever they’re rolled out for cellphone networks.
Features also include the possibility of placing car charging systems on poles and external environmental sensors that could collect data on air quality, chemical detection and temperature, with a heat tolerance of up to 188 degrees.
As part of the public-private partnership, the city will receive 20 percent of the revenue for the 20-year life of the project and 5 percent of the bandwidth will be set aside for city government use. The devices can accommodate mobile carriers, who can pay to have access to the nodes, translating to a new revenue source for the city.
Brierley hoped the new broadband capability will eventually benefit rural areas, specifically agricultural fields around Yuma. Farmers have expressed frustration with the lack of broadband service around their fields, limiting their ability to communicate with workers via cellphone, which they have said is vital to their work.
For more information about the project, email the Public Works Department at email@example.com or call (928) 373-4504.
A HIGH-PRESSURE SODIUM LIGHT (left) and a light-emitting diode, or LED, lay side by side at an open house held by the Yuma Public Works Department Thursday. The city is preparing to replace about 7,500 streetlights beginning in November. Paul Brierley examines the difference between high-pressure sodium lights and LEDs, which are smaller and lighter, making replacement less labor intensive.
JOEL OLEA, DIRECTOR OF YUMA’S PUBLIC WORKS Department, sets up demonstration equipment at an open house meeting held Thursday to inform residents about a streetlight conversion project starting next month. The city will replace 7,500 highpressure sodium lights with light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.