More News:

August 09, 2023

Philly's new streetlights will eliminate need to report outages to 311, and they'll use less energy

Over the next two years, the city will install LED lights along every street, beginning with those with more crime or vehicular crashes

Government Infrastructure
LED Streetlights Philly Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Philadelphia will replace130,000 streetlights with remote-controlled LED lights during the next two years. This photo shows streetlights on the 1100 block of Wolf Street in South Philly in 2018.

Philadelphia has started replacing its 130,000 streetlights with LED lights that can be dimmed and brightened remotely and that use less energy than those currently in use. 

The remotely controlled streetlights, to be installed over the next two years, will be connected to a network that also provides instantaneous information about outages, eliminating the need for residents to report burnt-out bulbs via Philly311.

The upgrades will reduce the city's streetlight energy use by 50%, and cut its carbon emissions by 9%, officials said. They make up the largest energy-conservation project Philadelphia has ever undertaken.

The fixtures are designed to have a warm hue with a lens that diffuses the light emitted for visual comfort, but they easily can be brightened where necessary. 

The neighborhoods getting the new lights first will be based on nighttime crime and crash data. The city has created an map showing where the new streetlights have been installed and where crews are heading next. 

The $91 million project is funded through a bond issued by the Philadelphia Energy Authority, but city officials said the energy savings, reduced maintenance costs and some rebates will make it cost-neutral in the long term.

Mayor Jim Kenney called it a "win-win" for the city.  

"LED streetlights will enhance the quality of life for all Philadelphians by providing better, more reliable lighting," Kenney said. "It will also help us advance toward our city's goals for Vision Zero, by providing better visibility to reduce traffic crashes, as well as ensure our continued progress toward meeting our 2030 energy and climate goals." 

The high-pressure sodium streetlights used now were installed in the 1970s and are overdue for an upgrade, officials said. 

In April 2022, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier called for immediate investments to address quality-of-life issues, like streetlight replacements, illegal dumping, abandoned cars and 311 upgrades in underserved communities. She pointed to an analysis from the Philadelphia bCity Controller's Office that found zip codes with the highest rates of gun violence also had high rates of 311 calls and L&I requests for municipal services.

Gauthier said the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing issues, noting that neighborhoods experienced delays in trash pick-up, lapses in the 311 system and streetlight outages

City officials kicked off the streetlight improvement project Tuesday at Shepard Recreation Center in West Philly. Last summer, a shooting there injured five people, including two teens. Nearly 100 shots were fired as children played basketball inside the rec center. 

"With public safety on the minds of all Philadelphians, we're eager to install longer-lasting, better performing LED lights as an important public safety tool for neighborhoods," City Council President Darrell Clarke said. "This project is yet another example of how clean energy is a tool for addressing Philadelphia's biggest challenges. This is a win for sustainability and a big win for neighborhoods all across our great city."