Street Light Upgrade Project


To maximize energy efficiency and operational performance while reducing their carbon footprint, the City of West Palm Beach, FL initiated a $6.8 million guaranteed energy savings performance contract (ESPC) in 2011. This provided for comprehensive energy management services for various city infrastructure and lighting, of which street lights represented 25% of the city’s energy expenditure in 2010.  


Street lights were an obvious target for improvement because of the anticipated cost savings, reduction in energy consumption, enhanced safety, and support from its Mayor whose goal is making the city one of the most sustainable in the region. 

Retrofitting Fixtures: Tariffs & Technology Benefits

West Palm Beach owns and maintains a portion of the lights in the City, some of which are tariffed and some of which are metered.  Tariff amounts are determined by the type of fixture and their wattage. Through the ESPC, the City retrofitted two types of lights, cobra heads and decorative lights. Input from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Engineering, Police, and the Street Light Division of the Public Works Department were all instrumental in the retrofit selection for its cobra head lights. For the decorative lights, the Florida Public Service Commission did not have tariffs specific for LEDs, thus, the City was able to utilize existing “decorative street light agreements” with FPL to allow for a reduced tariff due to the reduction in maintenance and energy required for each type of street light.

The City chose induction lighting for its decorative street lights. The energy savings on the existing decorative street lights would not have paid for the full fixture replacement for LEDs. The City and the ESCO evaluated all city-owned street lights and selected the type of retrofits from this evaluation. Street light retrofit fixtures were assessed on their availability, type of technology, feasibility cost, and warranty.

Utility Collaboration

In addition, Florida Power and Light (FPL) own and fully maintain lights within the City and bill the City for these lights. The lights are tariffed and the amount is determined by the type of fixture and wattage. Some city-owned and FPL-owned lights are on Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Palm Beach County roads. Those FDOT and County roads have different guidelines for lights, but the City is still responsible for paying for their operation. Since (FDOT) and Palm Beach County did not have established standards for LEDs, WPB had to remove those lights from their ESPC project. With the funds that were now available, the City made an agreement with FPL to pay for the retrofits for FPL-owned and maintained lights. This was the first time FPL had allowed LED retrofits to be paid for by a municipality anywhere in their service area. FPL does not allow outside contractors to update their lights. A different type of LED fixture was chosen for FPL retrofits due to timing and newer, tested technology.

Incremental Steps to Implementation

West Palm Beach suggests that other cities considering street light retrofits should progress in stages. Since technological advances are happening rapidly, proceeding in phases allows for evaluation of newly available equipment. It is important to have good communication through this process. West Palm Beach also recommends careful review of the wide variety of light temperatures and footprints in different LED lights, and to keep in mind that the continued adoption of LED street lights nationwide means there will be more consistency in these areas moving forward.



Over $4 million was used to retrofit 5,352 city-owned street lights and 1,451 utility-owned street lights in the city to more efficient LED and induction lights. Decorative street lights were converted to induction, because there were no cost-effective LED fixtures available at the time. The retrofits have helped contribute to an 11% decrease in overall greenhouse gas emissions for municipal operations since 2008. 


More than half of the street lights within the city are owned and maintained by the utility, Florida Power and Light (FPL).  The City first prioritized retrofitting the lights they owned, and then turned their attention to FPL lights.  West Palm Beach proposed contracting with FPL to convert over 1,400 of these street lights to LED through a decorative street lighting agreement.  These retrofits cost $700,000 and were funded through the City’s ESPC.  In return, the City received reduced monthly electric and maintenance tariffs from FPL.

Next, the City hopes to dedicate $2.5 million over 5 years through the Capital Improvement Plan to retrofit 3,260 non-decorative street lights operated by the County, Florida Department of Transportation, and FPL.



Many of the FPL-owned street lights are in older sections of the City, and residents and businesses in these neighborhoods were very happy to have this new technology. The West Palm Beach Police Department has also been a great advocate for the lights due to the increased luminance LEDs provide in unlit areas.  The LEDs are also Dark-Sky compliant – reducing light pollution and ‘city glow’, which is becoming an important feature to residents. 


Annual Energy Use

(Source EUI)
Baseline (2010)
6,869 kBtu/fixture
Actual (2014)
3,169 kBtu/fixture

Energy Savings:


Annual Energy Cost

Baseline (2010)
Actual (2014)

Cost Savings:


Sector Type

Local Government


West Palm Beach, Florida

Project Size

6,800 street lights

Financial Overview

$4.9 million

Revealing the Inside of an LED Street Lamp
Revealing the Inside of an LED Street Lamp

LED Street Light Media Event
LED Street Light Media Event

Promotional Flyer
Promotional Flyer