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Public Works Week: LED Retrofit Reveals the Power of Public Works 
LED Light installation on MLK, Jr. Blvd
LED lights installed in a street light on MLK Jr. Blvd.

There are roughly 30,000 street lights in the City of Knoxville limits, but it’s likely that most of those lights go unnoticed until one goes out.

The City of Knoxville has taken steps to ensure that those lights stay on longer and cost less (with an estimated $2 million annual savings, actually) thanks to a conversion to LED lights.

LED lights provide a cleaner light. They have a longer life, so there are fewer outages. They also take less power.

Previously, the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) owned and maintained street light poles with the City paying an annual streetlight bill of an estimated $4 million.

After the LED retrofit, that expense is anticipated to cut down to an annual $2 million. Public Works staff will play a major role in helping maintain savings long-term.

In planning for the retrofit, the Office of Sustainability worked closely with the Engineering Department, where a new position will manage the City’s new street light maintenance contract. The City just signed a contract with Service One for $840,000. Any time the City’s 311 Call Center receives a service request, Traffic Engineering will coordinate the work order with Service One.

Street light on Market Street
A downtown street light on Market Street.

Some street lights are on poles solely dedicated  to street lights (such as the ornate lights downtown); these are now City property. Sometimes, the lights are attached to utility poles with other purposes. In those cases, the City only owns the light itself, and KUB retains ownership of the pole.

“There are a number of street light variations throughout the city, and it will take some time to sort out our approach to resolve these different circumstances as we take on management of Knoxville’s street lights,” said Jim Hagerman, Engineering Director.

Traffic Engineering staff will also be coordinating with the Public Service Department’s after-hours crew. If there’s a weather event or accident that knocks a pole down at night or on holidays or weekends, then emergency services will reach out to that after-hours Public Service crew, who will then coordinate with Service One.

Ultimately, Public Works’ ability to oversee this new street light system will bring a better service to Knoxville.

Erin Gill, the Director of the City’s Office of Sustainability Office, initiated and coordinated the effort to convert the City’s streetlights to LED. She said none of this would be possible without the effort of KUB and commitment from the City’s Public Works team.

“The LED street light retrofit is a complicated project and our partners at KUB and in Public Works have played key roles in making the transition as seamless as possible,” said Gill. “We could not have even considered this effort without the willingness of our Traffic Engineering and Public Service departments to manage the contracts for ongoing maintenance.”

Posted by On 25 May, 2018 at 7:50 PM