KC officials considering switching to more LED lighting to save money, improve safety

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- More LED lights could be coming to Kansas City.

The Public Works Department said new lighting would save taxpayer money, make streets safer and improve the environment. They also said the projects would connect KC’s business district to other parts of the city.

Kansas City started installing LED lights in 2011. There are currently 178 connected LEDs downtown and 500 LED lights throughout the city.

Between the street car, digital kiosks and smart sensors on interactive street lights, downtown Kansas City has earned its title as a Smart City. The lights have data analysis points on top that the city’s Chief Innovation Officer Bob Bennett said are making an impact.

"In the case of our pothole predictor, we are at the point today where we can predict at an 85-degree level of certainty where a pothole is likely to form and that’s allowed us to do preventative street maintenance, instead of doing a repair after something bad has happened," Bennett said.

If the city were to get more smart LED lights, Bennett said the city would have more data to work with and could take more preventative action.

On Thursday, the Kansas City Council was presented with information about adding LED street lighting on the east side from Philips Lighting. The company talked about adding the lighting in an area around Troost, 29th, 28th, 27th and Benton.

Mahmoud Hadjian with the Public Works Street Lighting Program said he’d like to see all the city’s 95,000 lights switched to LEDs.

"The energy-saving benefits are for the system is approximately 50-60 percent of what we pay today -- about $6 million in energy costs today," Hadjian said.

Hadjian said switching to LEDs would also save about $5 million in maintenance costs.

The current smart LEDS dim and brighten based on the number of people around -- an option that would also be added to any new installations.

That public safety aspect also comes with environmental benefits.

"But just from a responsibility perspective, we promised our citizens in 2005 with an environmental compact that by 2020, we would get to 30 percent less of our greenhouse gas emissions by that target year. LED lights are a way for us to start to approach those numbers," Bennett said.

Kansas City’s chief innovation officer said he expects the request for proposals for an LED lighting project to go out next month. From there, different companies would make presentations and the city council would have to vote to approve it.

The Public Works Department said switching the entire city to smart LED lights would cost around $5 million.