Easy Savings: LED Street Lights

LED street lights in action -- China
LED street lights in action — China

by James A. Bacon

Installing LEDs  in street lights may be no panacea for municipal budget woes, but the payback is so high that one can’t help but wonder why every local government in Virginia isn’t doing it.

It’s heartening to heart that Virginia Beach, Virginia’s most populous city, is taking the plunge. Well, dipping its toe might be a more accurate description. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Highway Electric of Chesapeake will install about 180 LED street lights in the median of the newly expanded Princess Anne Road beginning January 5.

The main drawback of LEDs (light emitting diodes) is that they are more expensive than the high-pressure sodium lamps they replace: $6,600 compared to $4,800.  But fewer LEDs are needed to light Princess Anne Road — 182 compared to 257 of the sodium lamps —  so the total project cost is lower.

Moreover, maintenance and electricity costs are lower. An LED street lamp lasts five times longer than conventional lights. Over time, that saves the cost of buying new lights and the cost of sending crews to replace them. They also consume about half as much electricity as a sodium light. Virginia Beach spends about $5.4 million a year lighting all of its street lights, according to the Pilot. The city expects to be saving $650,000 annually within ten years by phasing in the LED lights.

Arlington County had converted 85% of its street lights to LEDs by August. But only a few Virginia localities have implemented the technology.

Bacon’s bottom line: The payback is so high that any citizens ought to get up in arms if their locality is failing to take advantage of this cost savings. But why not go a step further? Local governments can save even more by attaching sensors that detect the movement of cars and people. The lights turn on when someone is walking or driving nearby and turn off when no one’s around. As a bonus, burning less electricity reduces carbon dioxide emissions and power-plant pollution.

Admittedly, in Virginia the picture is complicated by the fact that Virginia Dominion Power owns many street lights. I’m not clear on how much say-so local governments have over how those lights are maintained. With that caveat, smart LED street lights is low hanging fruit that every local government should be plucking.

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36 responses to “Easy Savings: LED Street Lights”

  1. Hill City Jim Avatar
    Hill City Jim

    Here in Lynchburg our government loves the old fashion light bombs that shine light in your windows because we are a “historic” destination and God forbid they would want to do anything to control expenditures. That and they want to be able to see the underside of any UFOs that might be flying overhead. Why else do you want your light shinning up?

    1. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
      Laura Greenleaf

      Jim–you are absolutely right. the lights you are describing–presumably the dropped lens, dusk-to-dawn lights and/or cobra head streetlights—waste most of their illumination by projecting it outward as glare and light trespass or upward where it contributes to sky glow. Perhaps 40% of the light illuminates the ground.

  2. This is also how you retire old high polluting coal plants and gawd forbid we’d actually consider solar panels to power the LEDs with grid power as a backup.

    interesting also – that if Gov required the LEDs it would no doubt be classified as “job killing” regulation, but if the same exact thing is done voluntarily – for some reason it’s not “job killing” but instead something “every locality should do”.

    why is that? can someone explain?

  3. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
    Laura Greenleaf

    Enthusiasm about LEDs must come with some cautionary caveats and lessons learned from early adopters. LEDs at their cheapest (and “bluest”) ramp up light pollution including intense glare that disproportionately impairs vision and increased negative ecological, human health, and astronomical health impacts. (The photo above demonstrates the glare.) The International Dark -Sky Assoc. first warned of the risks of too much blue-white light in 2011 and have recently issued their new Fixture Seal of Approval requirements that limit the Color Correlated Temperature of lighting to 3,000Kelvin or below: http://darksky.org/outdoorlighting/431 The true progress of LEDs is in their adaptability and controls i.e., instant on/off, dimming, timing, responsiveness, and other means of reducing over all consumption. That, coupled with ‘warmer’ CCT is where the real benefits and savings can be realized. I recommend the Remaking Cities Institute’s Pittsburgh LED Street Lighting Research Project for more on getting conversion to LED right: http://www.cmu.edu/rci/research/projects/current-projects/Pittsburgh-LED.html and here is a video that demonstrates wise use of LED technology to protect bat habitat in a public park in England:
    We know that increased efficiency usually drives increased consumption and overall waste (such as using a hybrid car to justify a longer commute and more trips). We need to use lower CCT LED lighting in conjunction with a transition to needs-based lighting plans, limits on illumination levels, and new definitions of efficiency. Just going ‘cheap’ leads to costly mistakes.
    ~~Laura Greenleaf, co-leader of the Virginia chapter of IDA; http://www.darksky.org

    1. Thanks, Laura. Everything is more complex than it seems on the surface. It’s good to know, though, that people in Virginia are thinking about how to use this technology to optimum benefit.

      1. I too appreciate Laura’s contribution – useful info

        but I do challenge this statement:

        ” We know that increased efficiency usually drives increased consumption and overall waste (such as using a hybrid car to justify a longer commute and more trips).”

        look at what is going on with autos and fuel efficiency as well as trips.

        fuel efficiency is so good it’s actually killing the gas tax as a revenue source


        VMT is actually also on a downward trend..

        but the “blue” light is fixable – as well as lighting places hard to reach and have it actuated by need not just on all the time.

        Our school system just got a capital facilities request approved to replace all lighting… and again – I don’t see that results in increased usage…

        I’m trying to think of something obvious that increased efficiency has increased the use of … not heat pumps… people generally heat/cool according to their preferences… not fridges.. you can only cool so much before you freeze….

        so what? how about some examples?


        1. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
          Laura Greenleaf


          Don’t get me wrong–I am pro-energy efficiency, but I’m pro-energy conservation first. This also crosses over into the issue of externalities. If we incorporated the full costs of our energy use into its costs, then we would not have cheap energy no matter how efficient and we would not waste it.

          In England when illumination depended on candles they were taxed and the phrase “burning the candle at both ends” came from those extravagant (and presumably wealthy!) folks who treated this precious resource so wastefully.

          1. Laura – do you have an opinion of the dark sky standards?

            and yes, familiar with European and Asian standards for only heating part of the house and using architecture to reduce cooling demands.

            do you have a link that shows what the primary uses of electricity are? i.e. lighting, cooling, heat, cooking, refrigeration, electronics, etc?

          2. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
            Laura Greenleaf

            I’m replying to myself . . . in this comment I do not mean to imply support for increasing costs. Rates should certainly not be regressive!
            But we can reverse incentives for high levels of consumption.

            And building efficiency certainly lowers heating and cooling costs most particularly for those of lower incomes( in older housing and multi-family housing) where disproportionate percentage of income goes toward those expenses and condition of housing creates significant energy loss.
            Unfortunately favor is tilting against efficiency. Florida just gutted their energy efficiency (and solar) programs at the behest of the utility powers-that-be: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/florida-regulators-meet-to-decide-future-of-energy-efficiency-and-solar/2207845

          3. Laura – if you have the time and are so inclined, please continue to offer your thoughts and views.

            having said that –

            do you think that energy efficiencies will continue as technology inevitably evolves – and what happens to utilities that do what Florida and Dominion are doing which is trying to protect their current business model – even as the world of energy efficiency is changing?

            do you subscribe to the point of view that has been expressed in WSJ and other non-environmental publications that say that unless companies like Dominion change their business models and embrace the advancing technologies that they will fall into what is essentially a downward spiral where people will adopt energy efficiencies as they become cost effective – and if the utilities increase their prices – the cost-effectiveness dynamic just further accelerates consumer adoption?

            I know in my own case – I’m not interested in using more energy but less and I’m driven towards buying things that will help me keep my electric bil down – and if it goes up – to then justify buying a more efficient heat pump.. solar panels.. LEDs, etc.

            I’m looking at what has happened to the automobile in terms of energy use. People are using less fuel – because cars have become more and more efficient. The don’t drive more – in fact VMT is dropping… and people are not done – every time they buy a new car – they’re looking for even more efficiency – like hybrids – even if they are not particularly more cost-effective – they just use less fuel.

        2. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
          Laura Greenleaf


          Here is a 2009 report on energy use/lighting: http://www.texasida.org/Energy-Cost-OutdoorLtg102809.pdf

          Regarding opinions on lighting standards, it would depend on the standards–ordinances vary from municipality to municipality. Some of the strongest are in Arizona where curbing light pollution originated (for astronomical purposes–protecting observatories). A few years ago the IDA came out with its Model Lighting Ordinance which is regarded as a work in progress and takes a very different approach. somewhat controversial and not satisfying to many (believed to be too permissive for the most urbanized areas).

          For anyone interested in the subject of light pollution, I strongly recommend the brilliantly illuminating book (pun intended): “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light” by Paul Bogard. An incredible good read–part memoir, travelogue, elegy, call to action. Exceptionally well researched and even the footnotes are fantastic! Paul is now a professor at Virginia’s own JMU. The book is now available in paperback.

          And of course–always, http://www.darksky.org for the latest. Light pollution is preventable, reversible, not inevitable and bringing back our view of the universe does not require giving up outdoor lighting.

          1. thanks, Laura… much appreciated.

        3. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
          Laura Greenleaf

          Whew! That is a tall order (your more recent comment farther down) and unfortunately time is too short. Regarding VMT, efficient cars, etc. I “heard” (and I emphasize “heard” because I cannot point to any reports) that the recent drop in gas prices has resulted in a sharp increase in sales of SUVs and trucks. If that is true, it is the sort of thing that discourages me greatly.

          1. Laura , I KNOW the conventional wisdom of economists and especially those with libertarian leanings will glom on to the theory (Jevrons and others).

            But the problem is they look at these things as if they are closed systems wit only two choices… rather than part of a complex system where money is fungible.

            So energy standards have reduced fridge consumption by 75% and sure some folks are buying larger fridges – but overall the amount of energy consumed by fridges has gone down and the money saved has been spent on other things – perhaps LEDs or more efficient heat pumps or LED TVs.

            energy consumption is down and continuing on that trend – and in no small part because the government – not consumers has instituted energy standards – as well as reporting requirements that help people identify the better of the choices – even though all meet the minimum govt standards.

            That’s the situation with cars – yes, some are buying bigger SUVs but the bigger SUVs STILL get better mileage than what they had before!

            here are some contradictions to conventional wisdom theories – residential bullets:

            Heating and cooling no longer majority of U.S. home energy use

            Newer U.S. homes are 30% larger but consume about as much energy as old

            RECS data show decreased energy consumption per household


            but the theory I buy is that people will save on energy – so they have that money to spend on other things – not to boost their energy use – and again – because the premise they use for the theory basically excludes energy use as part of a bigger, more complex economic system where people make choices on HOW to SAVE money so they can have more of it for other things – and that includes – for instance – a lower monthly electric bill – so they can afford more premium cable channels… etc…

            Finally -please continue to contribute here and promote the concept of energy and energy use .. and show me I’m wrong – because I am sometimes – but you have to prove it!

        4. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
          Laura Greenleaf

          One last thing to share which I just came across again:
          recent study in Journal of Energy and Environmental Science found that as lighting costs decrease, many users increase illumination levels and install lighting in previously unlit areas without needs-based assessment.

          I don’t have link offhand, but you should be able to find it easily enough. lead researcher is Christopher Kyba.

          1. Laura – I don’t doubt it – but just point out that when people save money on something – it’s fungible – they don’t necessarily increase consumption of the thing they saved money on…

            The Libertarian theories are based often on ‘closed’ systems – where money is not fungible.

            In other words they hold all but one variable – fixed and static then look for a proportionate dynamic on just the one thing.

            think about your own experience when you save energy … do you – without fail – never do anything else but – use more energy?

            some things are also elastic. would ice cream permanently reduce in price by 1/2 result in you eating twice as much?

            if milk was 1/2 price – would you buy twice as much and consume it all?

            when you back out of the one variable – all others fixed – theory -the system becomes more complex…. and the theory much harder to prove without adding a lot more variable parameters …

            it’s sorta like using a really simple model to predict a trajectory path – then realizing that it does not address things like gravity and weather anomalies.. or aero effects.. so, for instance, doubling the fuel does not necessarily double the range or accuracy… except in theory.

            if you looked at the chart I sent you showing per capita gasoline consumption – you’d see that usage doesn’t even vary by price… there are other factors… real-world factors that influence the theoretical relationship.

  4. Hill City Jim Avatar
    Hill City Jim

    For years I have been after our local Government to add a lighting ordinance to the zoning and Comp plans…and they finally they did… a little. Private property owners must shield up lighting, limiting it to 5 degrees below horizontal and more downward, new installations only, others still grandfathered.
    However the local government is excluded and anything replaced in a historic district must look, act, and work like it did years ago. Unfortunately, a lot of Lynchburg is in a historic district and there is no hope the things you recommend will ever come to pass here. What really gets me is the recent street renovation with new antique lampposts with no cutoffs with the explanation that the up lighting is needed so people can see the historic (rundown) building facades. Soon we won’t be able to see a full moon!

    1. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
      Laura Greenleaf

      Hill City Jim–if you ever want to host a presentation in Lynchburg, please let me know. You can find my contact information via the IDA website under chapters and affiliates. I’m sorry to hear about the period style lamps . . probably acorns no doubt! All too commonly used in Main Street revitalizations and so forth. There are versions of acorn lights that are internally baffled to reduce uplight and alternative period style lamps. Historic lighting ought to be by definition lower and warmer. And there is ample evidence that supports lower lighting levels as more conducive to visibility which gets into the complexity of human vision and lighting. The American Medical Association in 2009 issued resolutions calling for action on light pollution at the local, state, and national levels. One reason was the human health impacts (i.e., primarily melatonin suppression and the connection to the growth of certain cancers). The other is hazardous glare and the impairment of vision particularly for older drivers.

  5. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Fairfax County has had an outdoor lighting ordinance on the books since 2003. It is generally well-regarded, but is under review for updating at the present time. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/zoningordinance/articles/art14.pdf Turn to Part 9. An explanatory brochure can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/zoning/lightingbrochure.pdf

    Also another example of how the Dillon Rule doesn’t always prevent local officials from taking reasonable actions, when, of course, they want to do so and not just have an excuse to cover their true motives.

    1. RE: Dillon
      All states have some version of Dillon truth be known even the ones designated as Home Rule.

      For instance, you want one state law for, a State Police Force, a uniform criminal code , an interstate/primary road system with standards, wastewater treatment regs so one locality cannot dump at will to a downstream city, storm water, ditto air pollution, dare I say – school standards?, one state license plate , etc.

      there is, by the way, a de facto standard for lighting – Dark Sky


      and it looks like this:

      For Small Communities, Urban Neighborhoods, and Subdivisions

      The purpose of the regulation is to:

      Permit reasonable uses of outdoor lighting for nighttime safety, utility, security, and enjoyment while preserving the ambiance of the night;

      Curtail and reverse any degradation of the nighttime visual environment and the night sky;

      Minimize glare and obtrusive light by limiting outdoor lighting that is misdirected, excessive, or unnecessary;

      Conserve energy and resources to the greatest extent possible;
      Help protect the natural environment from the damaging effects of night lighting.

      All outdoor lighting fixtures (luminaires) shall be installed in conformance with this Regulation and with the provisions of the Building Code, the Electrical Code, and the Sign Code, as applicable and under permit and inspection, if such is required.

      Spotsylvania has adopted the dark sky standards and we don’t get complaints from developers – they proffer it easy.

      I looked at TMT Fairfax brochure and it does not reference the dark sky standard but it does address architectural lighting:

      ” lighting used for architectural/landscaping should be aimed and controlled so that light is confined as much as possible to the objects to be lit.”

      I guess it’s a lose enough standard to be interpreted differently but it sounds pretty common sense.

      1. Wrong again. The state police have nothing to do with Dillon’s Rule. Implementing home rule does not extinguish the state or there would be no Iowa. Interestingly, the home state of Judge Dillion is the state that has most thoroughly erased his half-assed rule.

        As for Virginia – very strict implementation of Dillon’s Rule. Read this -http://mccandlishlawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Virginia_Subdivision_and_-Site_Plans_Law1.pdf

        1. Dillon is essentially what powers the state reserves and what powers it delegates to the jurisdictions.

          but even Home Rule jurisdictions are ruled by State Laws – including taxation and state codes.

          1. That is essentially correct. However, the balance between state and local in Virginia is heavily tilted toward state. The somewhat misleading term “Dillon’s Rule state” is used to describe this situation.

            States where home rule powers have been put into the state constitution still have state governments. However, the state government is legally prevented from interfering in certain local matters (unless the state constitution is amended).

            The big problem in Virginia is that the state government (aka The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond) has way, way too much power. The executive branch is neutered with America’s only one term governor law. The judicial branch is neutered by Virginia being the only state where judges are elected by the legislature with no review by a separate commission. The people are neutered by being only one of two states to use off year elections and by having America’s 5th most gerrymandered districts. Finally, the localities are neutered by a strict implementation of Dillon’s Rule.

            Sic Semper Tyrannis? How about “Semper reguntur a tyrannis”

            The General Assembly might as well be renamed the Virginia Politburo.

        2. Don – I think a lot of folks are thankful that the State keeps the local govt in check especially on taxing property, setting the tax rate and and allowing people to decide new taxes like meals with a local vote.

          I bet you did not know that New Hampshire actually taxes real estate – at the state level – to make up for the fact that they have no sales tax and their income tax is on interest only.

          3. New Hampshire

          With the moniker “Live Free or Die,” New Hampshire gives residents a double-tax break, with no sales tax and an income tax that applies only to interest and dividend income. High property taxes make up the difference, but New Hampshire’s proximity to Boston leads to a regular exodus of shoppers across the Massachusetts border to avoid that state’s 6.25% sales tax.

          home rule is defined as:

          In the United States, some states constitutionally or legislatively grant home rule to cities, counties, and municipalities within their borders. These are called “home rule states.” Local governments in home rule states are free to pass laws and ordinances as they see fit to further their operations, within the bounds of the state and federal constitutions. In other states, local governments have only the authority expressly granted to them by state legislatures, typically in accordance with the legal principle known as Dillon’s Rule.

          but the key phrase for home rule is: ” within the bounds of the state and federal constitutions”

          so home rule in terms of local power is determined by the state – and actually does vary by state and in some cases limited Home Rule is not that different than Dillon.

          I’ve never really seen a list of what powers that Fairfax would want beyond the idea that they should not be paying taxes to fund other school systems in the state – but that’s not really Dillon – as most states have some kind of system where each child get’s an equitable share of education resources no matter the geography – and that’s in the Virginia Constitution.

          1. How does the state keep the localities in check on taxing property? Don’t the localities set the real estate tax rates?

            I don’t want idiots like Joe Morrissey writing the rules that apply to me. I don’t trust the voters in Henrico County and I want their elected asshats to butt out of my business. They probably don’t like Janet Howell. Fine. She can butt out of their business too.

          2. when they set the rates they have to go through a fairly detailed and lengthy process where they have to advertise the max rate being considered then have public hearings … basically the process is elevated to a higher level of visibility than other actions… and in this day and time – the amount of increase becomes a campaign issue.

            then some taxes are optional but require approval by the voters.. like the meals tax.. etc.

            but then on your side is the fact that Va does not allow recall of elected, nor citizen initiated referenda, not even advisory votes …

            and even for GO bonds – the referenda are not directive – just allows the county to issue GO bonds – if they choose to – but also to find other ways to fund something – like Buena Vista did.

            I don’t know about up your way – but down this way – we almost never hear anything about Dillon … but usually a lot about state mandates and local tax rates.. and down our way a penny generates about 1.5 million – not a lot when a school or an interchange can cost 50 million and up.

          3. The strongest Dillon’s Rule states are Alabama, Arkansas, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Pretty much a rogue’s gallery of failed or failing economies.

            What power do the localities want? Well, Arlington County wanted to pass an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=wmjowl

            Read the first paragraph of the abstract for a good concise description of the outdated “power hierarchy” preserved by a strict implementation of Dillon’s Rule.

            So, the good people of Arlington County can’t adopt anti-discrimination policies applicable only to their own county because the collection of clowns, criminals, nuts and paedophiles known as the Virginia General Assembly won’t let them.

          4. Jesus – Don – WHEN WAS THAT? how about something CURRENT?

          5. Hey – you want a REAL messed up situation? Take same sex marriage and state and Federal tax filing.

            Say someone got married in a state that allows it and on their Federal and State taxes they can file a joint return.

            now they move to a state that does not allow same-sex marriage (so far) and they go to file their taxes. They can file joint Federal even though the state they are in it’s not legal (but since they were legally married in a state that does) they can still file Joint Federal but not Joint State.

            want to make it even messier? they got married legally in one state but now live in another where it’s not legal – and want to divorce…. so they don’t have to file Federal married but separate… but back to each single…

            want to go one step further ? they have an adopted child.. and they separate with one keeping the kid and filing Head of Household and what does the other file as?

            Don – did you know if you added up ALL the tax expenditures like tax-free health insurance and deductions for mortgage insurance – it would total up to TWICE our current deficit?

            it totals up to MORE than the entire discretionary budget!



    2. We can change the bulbs in the streetlights without asking the nanny government in Richmond. Free at last. Free at last. Great God in heaven we are free at last.

      The tobacco fund is a giveaway to Dominion. The former director is in jail.
      The last governor is headed to prison for a decade.
      A Delegate from Henrico County who brought a weapon to the the General Assembly has pleaded guilty to having sex with a 17 year old girl. He was 59 at the time. The girl is now pregnant and the delegate continues to legislate while commuting from the big house to the state house.

      Yeah, that’s the kind of government we need to have in charge of everything.

    3. Laura Greenleaf Avatar
      Laura Greenleaf

      Yep, Fairfax has one of the strongest lighting ordinances in Va. and Fauquier uses it chapter and verse. There are about 15 localities in Virginia that have definitive outdoor lighting ordinances on the zoning books. Others incorporate lighting requirements in other ways (for instance, Richmond City does not have a lighting ordinance but does address lighting in a parking lot ordinance). The key factor though is enforcement which is always complaint driven. Ordinances can be great on paper, but utterly disregarded and businesses tend to toss up lighting after the fact that is in violation of ordinances.

  6. LarryG:

    Interesting article although it bends the truth in some cases. Before I get to the truth bending – a lot of conservatives and libertarians have long called for a “flat tax” where there would be no deductions. Despite the term “flat tax” most people would agree that there should be a few (maybe 3) different tax rates reflecting income.

    Your report has the following – ” The largest corporate tax break allows multinational corporations to defer paying taxes on offshore profits, costing the government $65 billion in 2013 alone. That comes out to $494 per household.”

    That’s BS. Those multinational corporations pay taxes in the countries where the revenue is generated. Why should they then be taxed again in the United States where no revenue generation occurred? If you drive to Maryland and buy something (paying the Maryland sales tax) should you then also pay the Virginia sales tax because you happen to be a Virginia resident? In fact, the corporate tax situation is a bit more complex. For example, imagine a U.S. corporation that faces a 25 percent marginal effective corporate tax rate in the United States and a 10 percent marginal rate in Ireland. If this corporation generates a dollar of profit from investments in an Irish subsidiary, it will pay 10 cents to Ireland and only 15 cents to the United States, because it will take a 10-cent foreign tax credit on its U.S. tax return. However, a company not headquartered in the US will enjoy a 15% advantage when selling its wares in Ireland. This problem is amplified by the fact that the US has one of the highest EFFECTIVE corporate tax rates in the world. Conventional liberal wisdom holds that US corporations may face high nominal tax rates but a myriad of special interest tax breaks brings down the effective tax rate to a low number. Not true. Only Japan has a higher effective corporate tax rate among large developed economies (and we all know how well the Japanese economy is working). Source: http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mkg45edgle/usa/

    Our corrupt US Congress certainly favors some companies and industries. So does our even more corrupt state legislature. However, the average corporation hasn’t successfully bought enough politicians to lower their tax rates through tax breaks … yet.

    The US is very unusual in thinking that profits earned offshore should be taxed a at the very high US corporate tax rates. All of Western Europe allows for its multinationals to repatriate billions of dollars back home without paying the statutory corporate income tax rate.

    Calling a uniquely American theory of economics and tax accounting a “tax break” is a stretch in my opinion.

    1. Don – I AGREE with you about the BS on corporate taxes…

      what I was really pointing at was all the tax exemptions and deductions that taxpayers get from the tax free (Fed, state AND FICA) health insurance that others who don’t have employer provided do NOT get… when they buy out of pocket for theirs – to the mortgage deduction and others including that total up to more than a trillion dollars in tax expenditures – twice the deficit and dang near as much as our discretionary budget.

      I’m sure not 1 person in 100 asked for the most recent CR voted by Congress why it was “only” 1.1 Trillion even though it was for only 9 months til the end of September. The answer is that the mandatory budget does not need a CR – only the discretionary budget. What is the mandatory budget? It’s all the earmarked taxes like FICA and the Fed gas tax, airport taxes, etc – as well as Medicare which the govt/taxpayers pay 3/4 of whatever the costs turn out to be, plus all the pensions promised to govt and military retirees, etc.

    1. @Cville – yup… even back then it was cost-effective to do it but now it is SO cost-effective that it’s a no-brainer.

      However, it DOES cost UP-FRONT money to buy them now and replace rather than stock LED replacements for when the other burn out like VDOT has been doing:


      all these lights being replaced by govt entities as well as corporations and even consumers are NOT leading to higher energy use. On the contrary, energy use is going down overall in part due to LED but also increasing use of SOLAR on residential as well as commercial and is leading to Dominion getting squeezed on it’s profits – and their intent so far is to ask the SCC to let them maintain their profit margin by increasing rates – which is going to accelerate the use of more energy efficient lights and other things so that the monthly bill is kept from increasing…

      Some electric utilities are asking for – and receiving – incentives from deploying more energy efficient electricity generation… so they can gradually get out from under their stranded costs in older technologies that are being made obsolete faster by the acceleration of energy technologies.

      there are various things on the web but here is one:

      Monthly Cost of Using Incandescent Light Bulbs
      2.820 X $0.1188 X 150 hours = $50.25

      Monthly Cost of Using CFL Bulbs
      0.658 X $0.1188 X 150 hours = $11.73

      Monthly Cost of Using LED Bulbs
      0.447 X $0.1188 X 150 hours = $7.97

      what WILL HAPPEN is that when you save money on energy – you’ll spend it on something else – which – provides jobs… for the other things you can buy instead of spending it on electricity.

      Bad for Dominion – as their costs to generate are fixed…

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