Valley News -

By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

Regional Streetlight Program set to transform night sky in Lake Elsinore


Last updated 8/22/2018 at 10:02am


A Cul-de-sac neighborhood shows current street lighting from the Hemet Streetlight Demonstration Area.

A new streetlight program, courtesy of the Western Riverside Council of Governments, is set to change the way Lake Elsinore residents view the night sky, thanks to a unanimous vote by that city's council last month.

Lake Elsinore City Council July 24, voted to approve the measure, citing cost savings and improved public safety.

Under the regional project, the city will secure local ownership and control of its streetlights, which will be retrofitted with energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) technology beginning in October.

The cities of Eastvale, Hemet, Menifee, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Perris, San Jacinto, Temecula and Wildomar, and the Jurupa Community Services District are also participating in the program, which will save an estimated in $60 million thanks to less energy usage and reduced maintenance costs over the next 20 years.

According to WRCOG, the program will offset the total energy use of 2,000 homes each year for the participating cities.

Lake Elsinore alone can expect to see an annual savings of more than $5.4 million over that 20-year period once the retrofit of the city's 3,486 streetlights is completed.

"Cost savings is one of the primary benefits of making this change," Lake Elsinore Senior Management Analyst Nicole Dailey said.

The city, which currently owns 3,156 light poles, estimates it will save $5.4 million over a 20-year period by making the change, which will cost the city $3.5 million total, according to Dailey.

"We spend over $447,000 per year just to operate the street lights through SCE," Dailey said.

The city financed the project over a 15-year term, she said

Maintenance and additional local control were other reasons for the change.

"With this process we will be able to expedite it very quickly," Lake Elsinore Senior Civil Engineer Farid Dost said.

With the added local control, the city will be able to rent out space on its power poles to entities such as cellphone providers for satellites to improve cellphone service for residents.

"It could potentially also generate revenue for the city in the future," Dailey said. "We also could use it for smart city technology, like Ontario does like tracking thieves on the road. There are all kinds of things we can do with the poles that we didn't have the power to do when they were an SCE asset."

While lights appear to be brighter, they can be adjusted to certain areas where more light is needed, while directing light away from areas where it isn't wanted or needed. So the new lights won't keep Palomar Observatory from being able to complete its mission. The city and WRCOG worked with the observatory to determine lighting choices to ensure the observatory would not be affected, according to Dost, who said the new LED fixtures will minimize light pollution.

"We've been coordinating with them and they are very happy with our process," he said.


The Hemet Streetlight Demonstration Area pictured with proposed LED street lighting. 

The lights will be dimmer, but illuminate the ground better, said Dost, who added that the city consulted with the American Medical Association to ensure the new lighting would not disturb the sleeping patterns of residents whose homes are near the streetlights.

"The light stays facing down whereas the current lights kind of glow. The light doesn't go down, it creates an ambiance of light around it while the LED lights can be aimed more effectively toward the ground," Dailey said.

Not only do LED lights improve the color spectrum at night you can see colors in the dark which helps to improve public safety, according Dailey.

"A lot of work went into making sure that we minimized any kinds of concerns from the changeover for the community," she said. "It does improve overall public safety for the city. This is going to help in terms of being able to see better at night. It is going to improve visibility for us to actually be able to make our streets safer in the end."


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