LED Street Light Conversion

What is ML&P’s street light conversion program?

ML&P, the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska Department of Transportation and other public agencies and utilities install, maintain and operate almost 40,000 street lights on Anchorage roads and trails to improve vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety.

ML&P owns and maintains some 4,000 high pressure sodium (HPS) street and trail lights in its service area, including downtown and parts of midtown and east Anchorage. In 2017, ML&P  converted over 3,700 of its street lights to networked light emitting diode (LED) fixtures. The remaining lights are ornamental and will be converted in the near future. 

Why did ML&P convert to LED lights?

Most of ML&P’s HPS lights were installed in the mid-1980s and need to be replaced because they are at the end of their service life. Utilities around the world, including those in other communities in Alaska, are switching to LED lights to save money and energy.

LED fixtures use about half the power to produce the same amount of light as conventional HPS fixtures. LED lights also cost less to maintain than equivalent HPS lights and they provide more reliable service, especially in cold weather.

Are there benefits?

LED street lights typically last four times as long as conventional HPS lights. In addition to the longer life, other benefits include:

  • Energy savings
  • Reduced operation and maintenance costs
  • Asset management
  • Reduced carbon emissions 

Will the lighting conversion save money?

Over time, using LED lights will save money. The conservative estimate in savings is about $400,000 a year in combined power, operating and management costs.

How much energy will be saved?

ML&P’s new LED light system will use almost 40 percent less power to produce the same light as its aging HPS light system, to save three million kilowatt hours annually and reduce the amount of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere.

Does LED street lighting look different than lighting from conventional HPS fixtures?

LED street lighting is visually different than lighting from conventional fixtures. Existing HPS street lights produce a light color that is yellowish or orange hue. The LED lights ML&P is installing produce whiter light that is similar to daylight.

LED lights are also more focused than HPS lights so that more of the fixture’s light shines onto the street and sidewalks and less light spills into adjacent areas.

Are LED lights brighter than conventional lights?

LED lights and equivalent HPS lights produce the same intensity of light. Most people perceive that the LED lights ML&P is installing to be brighter because they are whiter than conventional HPS lights and whiter light increases contrast and improves color rendition and depth perception.

Do LED lights cause more light pollution than HPS lights?

LED fixtures generally produce less light pollution than other lights because their light is more directional and focused. ML&P uses cobra-head LED fixtures that comply with International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) standards for shielding, which minimizes glare and light spillage. Snow- and ice-covered surfaces can cause glare and sky glow from all street lights—including those HPS lights used for decades. ML&P is installing all LED lights to be positioned at 90 degrees to the ground.

Many other cities, including Fairbanks, San Diego, Atlanta, Los Angeles, have installed 4,000K LED street lights.

Do LED lights disrupt sleep patterns?

Recent studies indicate that some LED lights, including the light from televisions, computers, smart phones and items many people already have in their homes, may disrupt human sleep patterns. No widely accepted study indicates that LED street lights impact human sleep cycles any differently than HPS street lights because of limited duration and intensity of most peoples’ exposure to street lights compared to other LED light sources.  


On Mar. 28, 2017, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz joined an ML&P crew to install a new LED street light and 'smart' controller node.

(Photo by Wayne Johnson)


Who can I contact for additional information about the LED program?

Please contact Public Relations Manager Julie Harris at harrisja@muni.org or (907) 263-5423 for additional information.

LED Streetlight Progress Map-LED Project Areas

Visit the Municipality of Anchorage web site (link= http://muniorg.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=90564b52108f4f46afdf21373b3341fb) for more information on LED Conversion Initiatives by both MOA (City Maintenance) and ML&P (Electric Utility).