Streetlight retrofitting in the City of Santa Clarita, California

Location: City of Santa Clarita, USA

Population: 213,411 (2020)

Climate: Mediterranean, with mild, relatively rainy winters and hot, sunny summers

Duration: 2017-2019

Sector: Lighting

Funding sources: Public-private

City Networks: The Southern California Regional Energy Network (SoCalREN)

Savings: 4 million kWh in annual energy savings, 19% in energy savings since enrollment (BaU scenario).

Solutions: The city council acquired the local street light ownership from a national utility company and upgraded 16700 street lights to LEDs with an effective useful life of 12-years.

Multiple benefits: Increased safety for citizens and drivers, reduced electricity consumption and pressure on the grid.

Objective – To achieve operational saving through local control and to replace all streetlights with LED fixtures; to improve street light maintenance.

Solutions – In 2018, the City finalized plans to purchase the Streetlight System from Southern California Edison (SCE). The purchase was based on three considerations: for local control, the ability to replace all lights with LED fixtures immediately, and “the realization of significant operational savings.” In February of 2019, SCE began transferring ownership of the system to the City over four phases. After the transfer, the City of Santa Clarita is responsible for maintaining and repairing street lights throughout Santa Clarita, including residential streets, major thoroughfares, and intersections (commonly known as Highway Safety Lights “HSLs”) and bridge lighting. The city awarded the streetlight maintenance contract to the Streetlight Maintenance District (SMD). SMD has a 24-hour Call Centre at (800) 509-9358, through which residents can report streetlight outages and request the installation of streetlight shields. This can shorten the period from discovering streetlight outrate to fixation.

From 2017 to 2019, the City completed retrofitting over 16,700 street lights resulting in over 4 million kWh in annual energy savings! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the City to complete this multi-year project, and we look forward to supporting their next sustainability effort.

By acquiring our streetlights and converting them to LED technology, the city forecasts total savings of more than $22.5 million during the first 30 years of ownership [source].

Funding – Streetlight maintenance services are funded through a blend of assessment revenue and property taxes generated by property owners within the Streetlight Maintenance District. The assessments are used to maintain, repair, and monitor the street lights. A new development is required to annex the District and all-new territories into the City. Upon completion of the streetlight upgrading, the City received over $1.9 million in incentives: over $1.6 million from Southern California Edison (SCE) rebates and $369,000 from the SCE Local Government Partnership.

Innovation – The project arrangement that effectively enables and motivates the participation of various stakeholders, like the city council, the utility company, the professional company is providing streetlight maintenance service, as well as local residents. At the same time, the funding mechanism can share the costs and benefits transparently and equitably.

Success factors Factor 1 is the streetlight ownership change, which enables the city to initiate the LED retrofit projects; Factor 2 significantly improves energy efficiency and major energy savings from the LED retrofit. Factor 3 is the long-term funding model.

Significant outcomes:

  • 19% in energy savings since enrolment
  • Over 4,100,000 kWh in annual energy savings – equivalent to 620 cars off the road!
  • Over $1.5 million in annual cost savings and $100,000 in yearly maintenance savings
  • Over 16,700 street lights upgraded to LEDs with an effective useful life of 12 years

Synergies with local policies:

  • California is a leading American state in climate action[source]. In 2016, the State Legislature passed SB32, which codifies a 2030 GHG emissions reduction target of 40 per cent below 1990 levels [source];
  • California systematically monitors the climate actions of different cities in its jurisdiction [source]
  • City of Santa Clarita Climate Action Plan (2012) [source], which the city had started the updating process in 2021 [source].

Political alignment:

  • The City of Santa Clarita is governed by a city council consisting five members, elected at large to four-year terms. Each year the council selects one of its members to serve as mayor, a largely ceremonial position. Such a political structure makes the city councils keen to protect local voters’ interests [source].
  • The assessment revenue is kind of property tax, and its increases are subject to voting by local residents due to Prop. 218, the Right to Vote on Taxes Act. Hence the local government is keen to reduce the streetlight maintenance costs and avoid cost increase [source].


  • The model is marketable, as it is common in many countries that municipalities own streetlights, and the operation and maintenance of streetlights is funded by local tax or government budget;
  • Replacing conventional streetlights with LED can generate significant energy savings, and the costs of LED lamps have declined dramatically in recent years, improving the profitability of streetlight retrofit with LED.

In many countries, utilities are bound by targets to motivate end-use energy efficiency.

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Sector: Lighting

Country / Region: United States

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Southwest Energy Efficiency Project