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Helping Municipalities Easily Transition to LED Streetlights

By Christopher Russell, Energy Program Manager

Streetlights are a high cost item for cities to maintain. Reliance on outdated technologies can cause cities to spend more than fifty percent of their total energy bill to streetlighing alone. Communities across the state express great demand for upgrading their street lighting fixtures, but are challenged by the complexities of investment analysis and procurement. The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has responded in part with limited assistance through its Maryland Smart Energy Communities program, but a more intensive solution was lacking – until this year.

Beginning in FY20, MEA provides new and more comprehensive assistance for municipal streetlighting upgrades. This program is sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). MEA is now leading a two-state initiative with Clean Energy Solutions, Inc. (CESI) and several other organizations (see list below) to help local governments in Maryland and Virginia to convert their older, less efficient streetlights to LEDs.

MEA’s major objectives and associated tasks under this program are to:

  • Educate local governments about the costs and benefits of LED streetlighting conversions;
  • Assist interested local governments (including counties) in determining the specific cost-effectiveness of a project in their locality, given a basic inventory of their existing lighting;
  • Assist local governments via model RFQs to solicit lighting contractors and financing for conversions and act as owners’ agents to assist with the selection and implementation of conversions in Maryland and accessing the existing Dominion program in Virginia;
  • Work with local governments alone and in aggregate to advocate with utilities and public service commissions, seeking to update utility tariffs and to acquire utility-owned streetlights where appropriate. Provide model state legislation, tariff guidance and additional educational materials on the efficacy of LED conversions; participate in meetings as needed with key stakeholders to move the conversion process forward.

To learn more about this work click here. If you represent Maryland local government looking to upgrade your streetlights and need help getting started, contact Christopher Russell at or call 410-537-3031.

We greatly appreciate the support of all of the organizations involved with outreach and education to promote the adoption of LED streetlights by local governments: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the National Association of State Energy Officials.