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KNBA News - Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announces plans to install energy-efficient LED lights

During his welcome address at the Glacier conference Monday, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced an energy saving measure he’s implementing – a switch to energy efficient LED streetlights and in municipal facilities.

The city’s maintenance and operations division is taking inventory of Anchorage lighting to figure out the best places to start installing LED lights.  Berkowitz says the city can afford the 4-to5 million dollars it will take, but it will also seek new dollars.

“I'm very intrigued with doing something like a pay for performance bond where we put it out on the market,” said Berkowitz. “I think there are a lot of public-private partnerships that are feasible where we could essentially pay people back based on the savings we're going to generate. So it could be something that's self-financing, creatively financed, and has an economic benefit.”

The municipality says it has already switched about a quarter of roadside bulbs to LED, generating savings of 260-thousand dollars in energy costs. A complete switch will generate additional savings.

But Berkowitz says this project is part of a larger issue, “Part of the challenge we all have in coming to grips with climate change and the causes of climate change is finding the financing to address it,” said the Mayor.

Warmer winters have increased freeze-thaw bouts that require more de-icing and work to reduce ice build-up. After about 85-thousand acres of forest in Anchorage were damaged by infestations of spruce bark beetle, the municipality has taken steps to reduce the risk of wildfire, for instance, through mapping and public education.