PG&E After Protests Agrees to Switch to 2700K Lights

In late January, Alan Miller published a guest piece in the Vanguard warning that PG&E was not honoring the choice of Davis citizens when it changed these streetlights to LEDs.

“Those of us in the old neighborhoods received a letter from PG&E just after Christmas announcing that our streetlights would be changed out over the next few weeks. Few gave that letter a second thought,” he wrote.  “However, I became concerned because PG&E made no mention of light frequency or the Davis streetlight program. The letter included a small before/after picture showing a vastly whiter light and an increased area of illumination, two of the very concerns that led residents to reject the initial Davis LED lamp.

“Upon inquiry to PG&E and the city, I learned that the installation by PG&E would be a 3000K model, quite a different light than the one chosen by Davis residents.”

The conversion of “the PG&E street lights will result in a reduction of cost to the City’s general fund. Initial estimates of this reduction are approximately $13,000 annually.”

According to the staff report, around June of 2017, PG&E contacted the City and and inquired whether the City was interested in PG&E converting their 321 lights to LED.

“At that time, Staff made it clear that the 2700k was the light the City had chosen and that was the desired light for the conversion,” the staff report notes. However, PG&E indicated that they
would only be able to provide the 3000K light, not the 2700K one.

Writes staff, “As the 3000k light did not meet the City’s current standard, it was agreed that a pilot project would be done by PG&E.”

Two locations were selected, one at 8th Street and Miller Drive and the second location on El Macero near Vista Way and five lights were installed at each location.

According to the staff report, “The lights were installed in September of 2017 and remain in place. The result of this was that there were only 2 comments received by PG&E; one was positive and one was neutral.”

As a result, “the City agreed to support the conversion of the LED lights as this was a way to work toward achieving goals as set forth by the City Council.”

However, “After PG&E started their conversion project, Staff received concerns from residents over the aesthetics of the lights. The concern most prominently heard was the blue/white light which is emitted versus the amber light of the City owned LEDs. The lights provided by PG&E are different than the City owned lights, however, they do comply with the American Medical Association guidelines for streetlights which is a correlated color temperature (CCT) of 3000k or less.”

Staff reports that while it has not received any correspondence with concerns over safety, it has received concerns over the aesthetics of these lights.

Once again, “Upon receiving correspondence with concerns due to the color temperature of these lights, the City asked PG&E to place the project on hold. During this time, the City continued the discussion with PG&E to determine the best path forward to satisfy these concerns.”

After this continued conversation with PG&E, “they have reconsidered their options and have agreed to provide the 2700k light, manufactured by Cree Inc. This light provides the same color of amber lighting as the City’s standard light, however, the wattage of this light is 32 watts as opposed to 19 watts with the City adopted light.”

Staff writes, “If glare for these lights becomes an issue, shields could be installed to relieve this condition.

“Based upon information from PG&E, this effort to convert their lighting to LED is the first step in the complete phase out of High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights. At this point it is not certain what the rate will be, however Cities with HPS lights will be subject to rate increases over the next few years due to the cost to maintain the antiquated HPS lights,” staff writes.

In addition, “once PG&E does phase out HPS lighting, we can expect these lights to be converted to LEDs as they will fail. Opting out of the project at this point will delay, but not prevent, the ultimate conversion of these lights to LEDs.

“If the City confirms its desire to move forward with the PG&E light conversion, this confirmation needs to be conveyed to PG&E by the end of February. The lead time for ordering these lights is approximately 6 weeks and the conversion would resume upon their receiving the lights from the manufacturer and the project would resume in April to install the 2700k lights. As these lights comply with the City’s standard color temperature and also work to meet Council goals, Staff recommends re-initiating the conversion project.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Howard P

    was the blue/white light which is emitted versus the amber light of the City owned LED’s

    A primer:

    LED =  light emitting diode; HPS = high pressure sodium; XXXX k = “color temperature”, measured in degrees Kelvin (an “equivalency”… the lights do not operate at that temperature… google “color temperature”, if you want more education)

    The “amber lights” are/were HPS, not LED.  LED’s are more energy efficient than HPS (and give better color rendition).  Just as HPS is more efficient (and give better ‘color rendition’) than the LPS (low pressure sodium) [many years ago].  LPS was more efficient than the incandescent fixtures that were used for decades (from the earliest Davis streetlighting, as I don’t think Davis every had “gas” streetlights).  The most energy/cost efficient lighting (and MUCH better for lighting uniformity) is that provided by a full or nearly full moon on a clear night, particularly near the zenith.  Less lumens or footcandles, but that is made up for by uniformity – the human eye does better with that than ‘normal’ street lighting where you go from light to dark every couple of hundred feet.

    That said, congratulations to Alan and others for getting PG&E to do the right thing and getting very energy efficient lights with very good color rendition.  Good work!

  2. Tia Will

    My personal thanks also to Alan for his alertness and for putting in countless hours on getting this done. Our streets PG&E pole sits directly in front of my house with major impact on my living room and front bedroom. We would have been directly affected and likely would have had to change ( and use) window coverings which is not my preference as I love openness. So thanks again Alan!

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