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Clinton, mayor unveil greener streetlights

February 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Former President Bill Clinton was in Southern California Monday. He's teaming up with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to announce a major overhaul of thousands of old streetlights in the city. The lights are being replaced with "greener" ones.All things green have been all the rage these days, from hybrid cars to solar power to compact fluorescent light bulbs. And now L.A. officials are seeing the light when it comes to the thousands and thousands of energy-eating streetlights peppered throughout L.A.

"Over the next five years, we'll replace 140,000 of the city's residential streetlights with green, energy-efficient LED lights," said Mayor Villaraigosa.

Mayor Villaraigosa was shining Monday, thanks to some serious star power. Former President Bill Clinton shared the stage with him Monday as the two unveiled the citywide streetlight conversion, a joint project with the Clinton Climate Initiative that promises to save $10 million in power costs each year and keep more than 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere.

"In America, as a whole, there are almost 35-million street lights," said Clinton. "OK? If every city followed your lead, every major city -- do you know what would happen? We would save having to build two and a half coal-fired power plants."

The super-efficient LED (light-emitting diodes) streetlights can be seen in a video provided by the city of Los Angeles. LED lights are supposed to last 10 to 12 years. The lifespan of the current bulbs is about half that.

But where will L.A. find the funds to go "green" in a time when the city coffers are hundreds of millions of dollars in the "red?" The city's news release mentions energy rebates and loans, but the way the mayor explains it, the LED program will pay for itself.

"This project will be paid for entirely through savings from reduced energy use, and the lower maintenance costs of LED technology," said Mayor Villaraigosa.

Switching out all those streetlights is expected to take five years, and paying them off, another two years. But looking up on a day when the skies are gloomy, at least when it comes to streetlights, we can say the future looks bright.


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