News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

Three California Cities Go For Better Lighting

South Lake Tahoe: A nice place to conserve energy | Photo: Donald Childs/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Three towns in far-flung parts of the state are revamping the way they light their surroundings, saving money and energy with more reliable technology. The cities of Yucca Valley in San Bernardino County's Morongo Basin, Goleta on the Santa Barbara coast, and South Lake Tahoe in Eldorado County have all taken advantage of a California Energy Commission program to help spread municipal use of more efficient lighting.

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In Yucca Valley, the CEC helped the city replace more than 1,000 older fluorescent lights and their ballasts with more efficient "T8" tubes, which can reduce energy consumption by up to 5 watts per bulb. The city also replaced lighting in exit signs with solid-state LED bulbs, which use very little power while offering radically increased lifespans -- meaning those exit signs are likelier to be lit when they're needed most. The upgrades were done in the city's Community Development Building, Community Center, Town Hall, Museum, and Senior Center.

Goleta got new T8 fluorescents and LED exit signs at its City Hall and four local schools, and occupancy sensors to shut off some of the fluorescent lights when no one is in the room. The coastal town now also sports 84 new LED streetlights.

South Lake Tahoe, astride the California-Nevada line on the south shore of the Sierra Nevada's jewel-like lake, now also has new T8 and LED lights and occupancy sensors throughout its city buildings.

The upgrades in the three cities are expected to save more than 380,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and reduce California's annual contribution to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 132 tons. The projects completed earlier this year, were partially funded by through an Energy Efficient Conservation Block Grant of the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Administered by the California Energy Commission, the federal grants are contributing to the energy efficiency goals of small cities and counties.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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