The installation of new energy-efficient streetlights throughout Oakland will save money in the long run and help deter crime, city officials said Tuesday.
Standing at the corner of 98th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard for a morning news conference in his East Oakland district, where one of the new lights is being installed, City Councilman Larry Reid said, "This will bring us cost savings, energy efficiency and brighten up the community."
Oakland has begun the process of converting 30,000 existing high-pressure sodium cobra head streetlights with light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights, following up on a successful pilot program in which some of the new lights were installed in part of the city last fall.
City officials believe that in addition to providing a better quality of light that will enhance public safety and help reduce crime, the new lights will save the city money because the new LED technology is more energy efficient and the bulbs have a longer lifespan of up to 20 years.
They said Oakland is one of first municipalities in the U.S. to implement wide-scale LED conversion, as only 5 percent of municipalities have converted, or are in the process of converting, to LED lights.
City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who represents a different part of East Oakland, said, "The community is just too dark and has insufficient street lighting."
Brooks said the new lights, which will provide brighter and better lighting with less glare and fewer dark spots between poles, will make Oakland "a clear city and a safe city."
Reid said the new lights will be a key asset to his district because MacArthur Boulevard "really has to be brightened up" since several housing and commercial developments are under way.
Reid said he believes the lights "will make an incredible amount of difference because the bad guys will have second thoughts about committing crimes here because it's more likely that they will be seen."
The installation is beginning at the San Leandro-Oakland border, west of Interstate Highway 580 and converge west and north. The conversion project is slated to be completed by December.
Oakland Public Works spokeswoman Kristine Shaff said the cost for the project is estimated to be $14.8 million, including materials and labor but PG&E will provide about $2.9 million in incentive rebates to help fund the project.