LED Streetlight Conversion & Smart City Project


Beginning in January, 2018 contractors working for the City of Portland will begin the process of replacing the existing streetlights with new, energy efficient LED lights. This project has been a key part of the City’s climate action plan since 2008. We are able to move forward with it now due to a law passed by the Maine Legislature in 2015 that allow cities and towns to buy the street lighting equipment from electric utilities and replace the existing equipment with the new technology. The City and Central Maine Power recently completed the sale of the utility owned lights making the City of Portland the first municipality in the state to do so.


LED lights consume a fraction of the electricity consumed by metal halide or high pressure sodium lights to produce an equivalent amount light. For example, this project will replace 75 watt metal halide bulbs with 30 watt LEDs. Doing so will reduce the City’s electricity consumption for street lighting by 2.7 million kWh per year! According to the EPA’s greenhouse gas calculator this offsets the burning of more than 4,600 barrels of oil. 

Implementing this project offers significant financial benefits to the City. Before purchasing the lights we paid Central Maine Power a monthly lease fee for each fixture in addition to the cost of electricity. This added up to about $1.2 million annually.  Purchasing the lights and switching to energy efficient LEDs will reduce this cost to about $150,000 per year -- a savings of over $1 million per year!  Even though the City will now be required to maintain the lights we don't expect this to be a significant cost because LED lights have very long lives and extremely low failure rates. (Each new streetlight comes with a 10 year warranty from the manufacturer.) The lighting control system will also help make maintenance efficient by alerting our staff immediately if there are any problems.

The Project

The project will roll out in two phases. The first phase will focus on replacing the cobra head street lights mounted on wooden utility poles and the implementation of select smart city technologies. The second phase will focus on updating the pedestrian scale lights such as those found lining the streets in the Old Port and implementing another round of smart city technologies.

The City conducted a competitive process in order to select a partner able to assist with the development and implementation of this work. After carefully reviewing proposals from seven firms, the City selected TEN Connected Solutions. Their lighting and technology experts have helped City staff develop specifications for the lighting equipment to be used in the project and have provided technical information to assist with the selection of the equipment. The City has brought in local lighting expert James Hebert of Colby Company Engineering to provide third party review of the project and provide independent analysis of the technical details.

In addition to Colby Company Engineering, other local firms participating in the project include:

Bernstein, Schur who provided legal advice regarding the the purchase of the street lighting equipment from CMP,

Casco Bay Electric and On Target whose crews will be replacing the existing street lighting equipment with new, City owned equipment,

Revision Energy who will be helping to design and build several electric vehicle charging stations across the City and,

Redzone Wireless who will be assisting with the design and construction of the public WiFi network.

Phase 1 Projects include:

Converting the lighting in the Elm Street Garage and the Spring Street Garage to LED

Purchasing the utility owned street lights from Central Maine Power

Replacing the formerly utility owned lights with LED street lights with advanced controls

Conducting pilot projects of LED lighting on pedestrian scale light poles

Exploring decorative lighting options for City Hall

Implementing select smart city technologies that may include public WiFi, electric vehicle charging, intelligent traffic signals in select intersections.

(Specific smart city projects are under evaluation by a team led by City Manager Jon Jennings.)

Phase 2 Projects include:

Converting lights on pedestrian scale poles to LED

Implementing additional smart city technologies that may include broader deployment of public WiFi, additional EV charging stations, environmental sensors to monitor air quality and noise levels throughout the City, additional deployment of intelligent traffic signals.

(Specific smart city projects are being evaluated by a team led by City Manager John Jennings.)

LED Streetlights

In collaboration with engineers from TCS and Colby Company Engineering, City staff evaluated streetlights submitted for review by Leotek, AEL, Cooper, Cree, and Affinity. Crews installed sample lights provided by each vendor on Casco St. and Cedar St. in order to view the light output from each unit in field conditions. Based on the field evaluation and the technical information provided by the manufacturers the City selected to install streetlights manufactured by Cree Lighting. These provided the best lighting quality and offer the greatest energy savings of all the models submitted. The lights installed with produce light at 3000K, which is a warm, yellow light similar to what comes from the high pressure sodium lights they will replace. This follows the recommendations of the American Medical Association.  The Cree RSW lights we have selected are certified "Dark Sky Approved" by the International Dark Skies Association.

Lighting Controls

The new streetlights will have advanced controls by Echelon. This will allow City staff to control the light levels of individual lights as needed. Some cities, such as Cambridge, MA, use this capability to enhance the functionality of their lighting system and to be responsive to citizen concerns about light levels. This ability can also save additional energy beyond the LED conversion by dimming streetlights during certain hours in order to save electricity and to preserve night time darkness. The advanced controls will also facilitate maintenance by alerting the appropriate staff if need service or if they are damaged.

Smart City Technologies

City Manager Jon Jennings is leading a team to identify a variety of smart city technologies designed to enhance service for city residents and visitors. Projects under consideration include public WiFi in parts of the City, intelligent traffic signals in select locations, EV charging stations, and environmental sensors that can provide information about noise levels and air quality. We’ll post details about the projects as they become available. Subscribe to this page to receive notifications when we update it.