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Ameren replaces old streetlights with more energy-efficient technology

LED fixture beside a basic light bulb that has been used in streetlights for decades.s
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio
The new technology (right) is expected to last at least three times longer than the more-familiar bulbs that were in the center of older lighting fixtures.

Ameren Missouri says many of its customers could soon be noticing lower bills. The electric utility is upgrading streetlights throughout its system with LED technology.

“For an individual light it's about a 10-percent reduction on the bill,” said John Luth, director of contractor management for Ameren Missouri, on Thursday.

“When we're done with the whole program after five years, our customers altogether will be saving nearly $2 million per year.”

Ameren worker installs LED streetlight
Credit Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio
An Ameren worker installs a modern LED streetlight fixture on a utility-owned pole in Webster Groves.

The more familiar bulbs are being replaced on 125,000 Ameren-owned poles throughout the system. The utility says that is the equivalent of taking more than 5,000 average homes in Missouri off the power grid.

LED stands for light-emitting diode. Energystar.gov says they are semiconductors that produce light with the help of an electrical current. They are more durable and efficient than more common lighting sources including incandescent and compact fluorescent light, or CFL, bulbs.

The utility has been monitoring the progress of LED technology for years and decided to launch the upgrade initiative now because the cost of the modern fixtures has finally come down.

Luth says there are plenty of benefits from the new lights.

“They use half the energy, so that saves people a lot and that’s all good for the environment. Less generation, less carbon and so forth.”

LED light beside a decades old bulb-based streetlight fixture.
Credit Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio
Ameren says the new LED lights (left) use 55-65 percent less energy than the decades old technology they are replacing.

They are also more reliable. The LED fixtures last roughly 15 years, compared to about five years for the technology they are replacing.

Beyond the anticipated cost savings and fewer maintenance calls, Luth says there are two main positive aspects of the LEDs.

“It’s the same amount of light, but a whole lot less energy.”

Ameren says it started the five-year replacement program this week.  It is changing the technology on a majority of company-owned street and outdoor lights. The program does not include municipal or private-owned light fixtures.

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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