City of Colorado Springs / City Engineering / News

Over 30 percent of City's streetlights to go dark to help keep City in black.

To help address diminished sales tax revenues and general fund budget gaps, the City of Colorado Springs will begin turning off 8,000 to 10,000 streetlights as one way to save money.  The process will begin Feb. 1 and is expected to take about 10 weeks.             

City Engineering staff teamed up with employees from the Colorado Springs Police Department and Colorado Springs Utilities to plan the deactivation effort.

"It's just like what many of us are doing at home.  When our take-home paychecks are reduced we look for ways to cut expenses.  We have more than 24,000 streetlights within the City limits and the energy cost alone to keep all those lights on is about $3.2 million each year.  By shutting off between 8,000 and 10,000 of the most inefficient lights we expect to save taxpayers slightly over $1.2 million each year. In these lean times we are all cutting back where we can," explained Dave Krauth, City Traffic Engineer.           

The cross-functional task force established a method to choose which streetlights to turn off while maintaining public safety. The team chose to specifically target the least energy efficient streetlights (ones with 1000 and 700 watt mercury vapor bulbs). 

In addition, areas with high ambient lighting (parking lots, buildings) will have adjacent streetlights turned off.  Streetlights will most likely be left on for intersections with traffic signals, mid-block crosswalks, school areas and hospital emergency approaches.           

Streetlights that are turned off will be wrapped with a strip of orange tape around the pole and many will have a red cap placed on top of the light pole. This will help citizens distinguish between lights turned off on purpose and those in need of repair.  The cost to operate a street light is based on the wattage and type of bulb in the light.

  • Mercury Vapor (MV) bulbs use more energy than High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs for a similar amount of light.
  • The energy costs range from $5.87 to $42.41 per month per light.
  • The cost of energy for 24,512 streetlights is $3,220,000 per year.

Streetlights are constructed with a constant power source to each light and typically have a photo cell (automatic switch) placed on top of each light. The photo cell senses darkness and light and turns the streetlight on when darkness comes or off when the sun comes up in the morning. 

Streetlights FAQ sheet