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Millions Spent On Austin Street Light System

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

To combat light pollution, Austin Energy crews are installing a new street light system. The city spent $13.5 million in total costs for the updates.

To replace the old luminaries it costs about $7.5 million to install new, flat LED lights that shine light directly down to save energy.

The other half of the bill was the $6 million spent on a GPS monitoring system. It sends an alert when lights burn in odd hours or malfunction.

Jose Alvarado with Austin Energy said the remote system will generate its own failure ticket when something is not working correctly.

"It will lead us straight to the light," Alvarado said. "It will give us information on what’s wrong with that light."

Austin Energy expects the improved system will save up to $400,000 a year in electricity. Spokesman Ed Clark said the electricity bill for street lights in Austin is about $6 million each year.

"It improves neighborhood security because we respond more quickly," Clark said. "It is less trips, you save gas, you maximize your staffing, so the whole thing when you put a pencil to it is going to be much more than the savings in electricity."

Clark estimates the flat costs will be made back in 19 years. On top of cutting back on operation costs, Clark said customer service is also a plus.

"You don’t have to pick up the phone and call me and say my street light is out," Clark said. "We know and we'll know right away."

The communication system should be completed by the end of 2013, and the new luminaries are expected to be completely installed by 2015.

Austin Energy Officials said the project is another addition to their self-reporting smart grid.

By Cassie GalloMillions Spent On Austin Street Light System



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