Public Works & Engineering

City of Houston Sees Savings from LED Streetlights

In June 2014 the City of Houston and CenterPoint agreed to switch traditional streetlights in the City of Houston to LED lights. Two years have passed since the agreement was signed, and Houstonians have begun to notice the new LED streetlights. Taxpayers are also seeing savings in the General Fund thanks to this conversion effort.

With approximately half of the streetlights replaced in the last two years, our team was curious what the savings impact had been to date. By our estimates, nearly $900,000 has been saved through the bill period ending June 7, 2016. While the agreement was signed in June 2014, the conversion did not start until January 2015 after all the needed approvals were gathered. The first LED lights appeared on the City’s light bill in March 2015. You can check out the savings over time in the chart below.

How do savings work? The City does not own the streetlights and does not incur the capital cost of replacing the lightbulbs; instead, this duty falls to CenterPoint. The City does, however, pay for most of the operational costs associated with street lighting. The money to pay the electricity bill for streetlights ultimately comes from the General Fund – which is the City’s main governmental fund and is funded by taxpayer dollars.

When traditional streetlights are switched out for LED lightbulbs the number of kilowatts per hour (KWH) consumed decreases substantially. Not pictured on the chart below, the City has also saved approximately 19 million KWHs in the 16 months since the first LED streetlights appeared on our bill. This decrease in KWHs leads to a decrease in the electricity bill for the City. When the conversion is fully completed, the City estimates it will save between $2.5 million to $3.0 million a year compared to traditional lightbulbs (depending upon the price of energy).


LED Savings as of June 07, 2016

Frank C. Bracco is a Senior Staff Analyst for the City of Houston Finance Department and is a member of the Performance Improvement Division. Frank holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from the University of Florida and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Report Type: 
Blog Post

PWE-HPC - Records Management Improvement Project

Project Summary: PWE's Records Management division reorganized its group structure to optimize use of personnel and equipment while simultaneously reducing overtime by an average of $67,200 annually. Additionally, the team eliminated all non-compliant TPIA requests by ensuring that all requests were addressed in a timely fashion.

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Mapping the City of Houston's Electricity Usage Over Time

Last month, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability released, "...energy use data for all municipal facilities that are larger than 25,000 square feet," to highlight a nationwide energy usage benchmarking exercise the City is participating in through the Houston City Energy Project. You can read more about the project and find links to the data here.

After seeing the post, our group was a buzz about using the electricity billing data available on the Open Data Portal to create a time-lapsed viz of electricity usage for all City assets - not just those above 25,000 square feet. Check out the results below (keep reading after the animated GIF to play with an interactive version of the viz):
City of Houston Energy Usage FY12-FY14 time-lapse

Click on the image to get the full sized animated GIF.

Using the interactive visualization below, a user can hover over points to see their address, the department responsibility for the facility, and see the energy usage. When a user clicks on a point, they can also see the energy usage and billing trends below the map. The map displays about 98% of City of Houston assets that consume electricity (but for unmetered street lights). Many of the small green dots with low usage are traffic control boxes, water pumps, and other like assets. A note on billing: there were some delays in November 2013 and February 2014 billings on some facilities, which caused some dips and spikes on the citywide trends (but, it shouldn't impact most individual facility trends).

Let us know what asset has the most interesting energy usage trend. So far the winner is the seasonality of energy usage at 18401 John F. Kennedy Blvd (a Bush Intercontinental Airport facility).

Frank C. Bracco is a Senior Staff Analyst for the City of Houston Finance Department and is a member of the Performance Improvement Division. Frank holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from the University of Florida and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Report Type: 
Blog Post

PWE-HPC - HR Recruiting Process Improvement

Project Summary: Reduced the average recruiting cycle time by 20% by automating recruitment requests, fine tuning interview and selection processes, introducing job fair style recruiting, and regulating starting pay.

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Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a customer centric way of thinking and problem solving that seeks to continually identify and eliminate waste.

PWE - Houston Permitting Center Cashier Improvement

Project Summary: Eliminated over 140 hours of wasted time per month in the cashiering office at the Houston Permitting Center by removing unnecessary requirements in the cash tender process, creating standard work and implementing 5S.

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Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a customer centric way of thinking and problem solving that seeks to continually identify and eliminate waste.

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