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Alliant Energy to install LED street lights in Newton

Out with the old (left) and in with the new. (right)
Out with the old (left) and in with the new. (right)

Interstate Power and Light Company, an Alliant Energy company, has expanded its advanced street lighting technology project statewide — which will benefit Newton — by upgrading its streetlights to increase energy-efficiency and performance with light-emitting-diode fixtures.

“Every community is excited for it,” Alliant Energy spokesperson Justin Foss said. “We have done a lot of research for it.”

When Alliant Energy investigated light bulbs, a number of factors were considered. One was how much light the fixture produced. Street fixtures have regulations on the area. Roads must have a certain amount of light per area. The other factor was cost.

LED bulbs are relatively new to the lighting industry, and can be expensive. Alliant Energy looked at many different manufacturers, and chose Philips light bulbs.

Alliant Energy owns or maintains around 44,000 of these specific streetlights in Iowa. IPL successfully implemented a project pilot for the LED fixtures in the Cedar Rapids community. The project was so successful that cities all across the state joined the program.

The LED fixtures will save energy and improve the lighting quality on roads. Old fixtures provided a softlight color, and new fixtures will provide a bright light that is close to daylight.

The previous fixtures used a 100-watt high-pressure sodium bulb. The new fixtures will use an 80-watt LED bulb. Based on 2012 electrical rates, Newton will save an average of 68 cents per light per month in energy cost.

Since the fixtures are facing down, the lighting output will not be impacted by winter storms. Snow should not be an issue, unless power outages.

IPL and Alliant Energy are not just replacing bulbs, they are replacing the whole unit. The new fixtures cost just under $400, and will not cost Newton anything. Alliant Energy will install the new fixtures as the old ones burn out.

The change will not only help Newton use less energy but will save Alliant Energy money in the long run. HPS bulbs can last up to seven years, and LED bulbs can last more than 20 years. When the replacement is complete, Alliant Energy will save money on maintenance cost.

“We replace the fixtures as they go out,” Foss said. “We expect that seven years from now, all the 100-watt lights fixtures will be changed.

Newton has many light fixtures, and its energy bills are handled differently then the average home owner.

“Newton mostly pays monthly street light bills by unit,” Newton Street Superintendent Jody Rhone said.

Rhone also talked about the city’s recent LED traffic signal installation. One issue that came up was snow. Old traffic signals used light bulbs that emitted heat, which melted the snow. LEDs do not produce a lot of heat and can cause a problem for traffic light visibly, but Rhone did admit that Winter Storm Draco provided a unique type of snow. Unlike most snow storms, the city had to deal with wet, heavy snow. It made it hard to move and provided many challenges to the city. Rhone said that in most cases the traffic signals are not affected by snow.

Initial estimates showed that switching to the new light fixtures will save the state almost nine million kilowatt-hours.

In a press release given to the Newton Daily News, IPL President Tom Aller said he is excited for the change

“We are excited to bring this new energy-efficient technology to our communities in Iowa. This is a win-win for our customers because this upgrade will increase both the energy-efficiency of the lights and it will enhance the quality of light on the streets,” Aller said.

Residents are asked to report streetlights that are not working properly. Reports can be made online at ], or by calling 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268).

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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