The 140,000 streetlights illuminating Philadelphia’s neighborhoods can make all the difference in preventing crashes and improving quality of life for residents across the city. However, many of these streetlights rely on older technology, rendering them less durable and energy inefficient. Now, through a partnership between the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA), the City’s streetlights are on the cusp of getting a much-needed upgrade. 

The Philly Streetlight Improvement Project will convert 120,000 old, high-pressure sodium streetlights into a network of efficient, longer-lasting LED lights. By upgrading to better quality lights with a new lighting management system, residents will benefit from better visibility and faster lighting replacement times. The upgrade will also save the City $5.4 million annually and reduce carbon emissions by 15,000 metric tons each year, or the equivalent of taking nearly 12,000 cars off the road. The myriad of improvements – from safer streets for pedestrian and cyclists and reduced vehicular crashes, to clearer footage on video monitoring systems – are invaluable. 

The three-year undertaking will become the City’s largest energy conservation project and has the potential to cut more municipal carbon emissions than any other energy efficiency project in the Municipal Energy Master Plan. The multi-million-dollar investment will be budget neutral as it will be paid for by resulting savings generated from energy efficiency improvements. The project will also create economic opportunities, with a commitment that 40% of the work to go to minority, women, disabled, and small business enterprises (M/W/DSBE) and 56% to Local Business Enterprises (LBE).  

Phase One consists of a citywide audit of existing streetlighting infrastructure, along with community engagement and trial installations. In Phase Two, construction begins based on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood installation plan developed in part through equity analyses and public safety data. 

A hearing for the Philly Streetlight Improvement Project ordinance (Bill No. 220359), permitting the City to begin the contract and start the audit, took place on May 18, 2022.  A second, complementary ordinance (Bill No. 220506) was introduced on May 26, 2022 to allow for project financing. 

UPDATE: The Philly Streetlight Improvement Project kicked off on August 8, 2023, with all streetlights set to undergo upgrades over the next two years.