“We have just over a $900,000 street operations budget, and out of that budget, $145,000 goes to street lighting,” King said. “Those are fees that we pay Jefferson [Public Utility District] to operate about 480 lights in town — actually it's closer to 600 lights if you count all the downtown and Rainier lights,” he further added to emphasize his statement.
The city proposed to cut its street lighting budget by about one-third as a part of its 2021 budgeting process. King asserts that this goal can be achieved by upgrading the current high-pressure sodium street lights with new energy-saving LED fixtures.
As per the estimation, the conversion to LED will help the city save about 150,000 kilowatt-hours every year, and about $4,281 every month.
In addition, King further explains, “Every kilowatt we save here in Port Townsend helps the world by reducing the amount of energy produced by fossil fuels.”
For this notable cost-saving endeavor, Port Townsend has received grant funding to the tune of $177,460.
Many locals believe that this conversion of the streetlights will be a smart move financially only if the total amount of unnecessary lights is reduced.
One of the residents, Margaret Lee, opined on the issue, “Often when communities realize such a price reduction, they tend to use more light than necessary because it costs so much less. With this conversion, and hopefully a city-wide lighting ordinance, our town will maintain and enhance the enjoyment of the nighttime sky.”
As the city moves forward with this proposition, there might soon be talks regarding how these light reductions will impact street accessibility within the realm of the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, for now, Port Townsend seems to have taken the idea in stride.