The city of Durango and the Business Improvement District will spend $85,000 this year to install hundreds of new lights downtown because they are more efficient and last longer – and end up saving money in the end.
The city and La Plata Electric Association will replace 135 lights along Main Avenue, East Second Avenue and side streets in the historic downtown area in March, City Operations Director Levi Lloyd said.
“We got a lot of complaints the downtown was dim,” he said.
The lights will appear brighter and their glow will spread farther across the sidewalks. But they will also comply with the city’s dark-skies ordinance, which is meant to prevent light pollution, Lloyd said. The city adopted the ordinance in 2003.
The city will spend $50,000 on the project and BID will spend $35,000. The city may have to buy a second round of lights next year if the budgeted amount does not cover the project, Lloyd said.
Next year, the city will also consider putting up new light poles at five intersections downtown that are darker than the others because they don’t have stop lights, Lloyd said.
“We are trying to do a cautious approach so we are not over-lighting downtown,” he said.
Across the city, LPEA plans to install 500 new LED lights over the summer, said Dan Harms, manager of rates, technology and energy policy. This year, the co-op also plans to install new lights in Ignacio and Bayfield.
The LEDs will save the city of Durango $90,000 annually on its streetlight electric bill, which is about $380,000, Lloyd said.
LPEA tested different LED lighting across the city to make sure the new lights will fit the streets and intersections where they will be installed, said Ray Pierotti, a project specialist for the co-op.
Areas with high pedestrian traffic will be well-lit after the changes.
“Normally, we have way too much light out there. ... I want to make sure we have enough light,” he said.
To help save power, new lights in residential areas will dim slightly after 10 p.m., and in commercial areas, lights will dim after midnight. They will return to full power at 5 a.m.