Residents of both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks are starting to see the cities in a different light.
Both cities are switching their streetlights to LED lights, which are deemed more cost effective and energy efficient.
LED lights, short for light-emitting diode, are a newer technology than the older streetlights throughout both cities.
East Grand Forks plans to convert its city to all LED in the next four years, starting this year, said Scott Gravseth, city water and light distribution superintendent.
The cost will be about $200,000 per year over the four years, he said. But once all of the new lights are in, the city’s total electricity cost is expected to be nearly cut in half, he said.
LED lights are also supposed to last longer, which cuts down on maintenance costs, Gravseth said.
Earlier, East Grand Forks replaced 24 streetlights downtown with LEDs. “Now there’s 56 percent less energy used there,” Gravseth said.
The city is now working on converting its main roadways and has replaced 140 other streetlights, he said.
Grand Forks is not actively replacing every streetlight like East Grand Forks. The city is using LEDs in new projects, as the opportunity arises, said Rich Romness, assistant city engineer.
“All new lights we put up are LEDs,” he said.
LEDs were recently put in near the Grand Forks Library, where new light was needed, Romness said. There are also LEDs going in the new developments on the south end of town, he said.
It would be difficult and very expensive for Grand Forks to replace all of its older streetlights with LEDs, especially considering some areas of town are partly maintained by Xcel Energy, Romness said.
Debra Pflughoeft, sustainability coordinator for the city of Grand Forks, said the design of the new streetlights better project the light downward, onto the street, rather than adding light pollution to the sky.
She added Grand Forks is also starting to use LEDs in all city-owned buildings.
“Basically, our goal is to save money and save energy while still providing effective lighting,” she said.