In February, Portland General Electric will begin switching 25,000 of its high-power sodium lights to more energy-efficient LEDs.
Five counties and 47 cities are slated to get the lights in 2013 and 2014, with Clackamas County, including Portland, getting them first, according to Oregon Live. Following its regular light-replacement schedule, PGE will then install LED lights in these cities: Oregon City; West Linn; Lake Oswego; Milwaukie; Wilsonville; Molalla; Gladstone; Sandy; Estacada; Barlow; Johnson City; and in unincorporated areas.
PGE is able to afford the retrofit with the help of federal grants. In December, the Oregon Public Utility Commission approved the replacement of the lights, which comes at no cost to the municipalities. The new bulbs are expected to use about 60 percent less energy.
Other cities switching to LED streetlighting include San Francisco, the Borough of Tarentum in Western Pennsylvania, and San Antonio, Texas.
There are differing views as to whether the whiter light of LEDs is an improvement. Some claim the LEDs cause more light pollution and the white light is harder to block with curtains and shutters. But others claim the LEDs make it easier to see detail such as road signs, as well as stars in the night sky.