Supervisors Approve LED Streetlight Program

Loudoun County supervisors are moving ahead with Supervisor Koran T. Saines’ proposal to develop a county LED streetlighting program.

 County staff members and supervisors will now work toward a plan for setting up more county streetlighting, inside special service districts and paid for with additional taxes on property inside the district. That work will include establishing criteria for what areas will be eligible for street lighting, set up a process for creating a streetlight service district, establishing technical standards for those lights, and surveying the areas that today have insufficient street lighting.

County staff members also reached out to the Virginia Department of Transportation to ask the state about putting lights on state-owned roads, but were told the state does not typically consider streetlights as part of a project.

“Current guidance encourages minimizing installation of streetlights on all roads,” VDOT staff wrote, according to a county report. “Basically, the need to perform lighting warrants for any construction project is determined by VDOT management to assist them establish and document the need for lighting and selecting locations. Even meeting these warrants does not obligate the department to provide lighting or participate in its cost.”

The project may restart the county’s sporadic work building streetlights, most of which in Loudoun are owned by the state or homeowners’ associations.

In 1955, the county launched a program to share the costs of new streetlights with unincorporated, rural communities, subsidizing two-thirds of the costs. By 1977, 110 streetlights had been set up in rural areas, and the county set new, more restrictive rules, including that the county would participate only if funding was available.

In 1982, the county expanded its program beyond the rural area, through which neighborhoods would reimburse the county for streetlights and then the government would reimburse the utility. Then in 1993, the county began using funding from the new local gas tax to install streetlights; that program was suspended in 2002.

Since then, the county has paid or helped pay to install streetlights sporadically; in fiscal year 2018, the county counted 154 streetlights owned by the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, 565 owned by Dominion, and 909 owned by the county, mostly at county public facilities.

Supervisors approved the work plan without discussion, 8-0-1 with Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) absent, at their meeting Sept. 19.

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