Skip to main content

The City Journals

West Valley City completes switchover of street lights to low-energy LED bulbs.

Mar 08, 2021 01:46PM ● By Darrell Kirby

A street light on Parkway Boulevard in West Valley City sports a new LED bulb. The city has converted all of its street lights to the energy-efficient bulbs, at a significant power and cost savings. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

If West Valley City seems to have a brighter, whiter hue at night, that’s because it does. 

The city has recently switched all of its street lights in commercial, industrial and residential areas to energy-efficient LED bulbs. The whiter lights cast a more natural glow on the streets below than the orange-yellow sodium vapor bulbs that illuminated West Valley City for years.

About 7,500 lights—both stand-alone and those mounted on utility poles and traffic signals— were retrofitted in recent months with LED bulbs that provide significant savings of electricity and city tax dollars to pay for that power. 

“Our power bill should see about a 30% reduction,” said Erik Brondum, operations engineer for the West Valley City Public Works Department. He was unable to immediately provide a dollar figure. 

LED bulbs will also reduce the frequency that city crews need to replace burned-out or malfunctioning lights. “We were doing it every five to seven years to hopefully now seven to 12 years,” he said. Cobra head LED lights, named for their shape, could be maintenance-free for as long as 20 years. 

Brondum added that along with the longer life expectancy, LEDs tend to gradually dim over the years, giving advance notice they need to be replaced. Traditional bulbs usually just stop working. 

LED bulbs in street lights use anywhere from 55 to 100 watts, with lower wattage bulbs in residential areas and higher watt lights along major streets. The sodium vapor bulbs required 70 to 250 watts depending on their size. 

West Valley City contracted with a company to switch out the bulbs. However, the Public Works Department will continue to maintain them as it has for more than a decade when West Valley acquired the street light system from Rocky Mountain Power because it was cheaper for the city to run it. 

The street light changeover is part of an overall effort to equip city facilities and property with more efficient lighting and other energy-saving measures. 

Brondum says public reaction to the whiter, brighter lights has been nearly nonexistent. “Usually the only time we hear anything is when somebody’s not too happy,” he said. 

The Washington, D.C.-based Northeast Group, which describes itself as a “smart infrastructure market intelligence firm,” says 314 of the largest cities in the U.S., which includes West Valley City, had switched to LED street lights as of 2020.