The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)

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Anyone who drives, bikes, walks, or takes trains in our smallest state places their ability to get around—as well as their safety—in the hands of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT). This agency is responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining the state’s surface transportation system. RIDOT manages 3,300 lane miles of roadway, 1,154 bridges, five rail stations, and more than 60 miles of bike and pedestrian paths. This includes more than 68 miles of Interstate highway.

Last year, RIDOT began exploring the potential of replacing high pressure sodium street lighting with energy efficient LED lighting on state highways. A Route 295 interchange at the exit 7 cloverleaf was selected as the pilot site for the project, which included installation of 140 LED lights.

The new lights have a measure life of 13 years, with minimal light depreciation and maintenance. They also include a high-tech control system for additional savings. Since the controls allow the lighting system to be maintained and operated from a laptop or iPad, authorities can quickly discover any malfunctioning lights that need replacing.

Along with increased energy efficiency and decreased light pollution, the LED lights have a much more important benefit: improved highway safety, and better night visibility for drivers.

In addition to replacing highway street lighting, the RIDOT also replaced incandescent traffic lights with LEDs. In addition, RIDOT made its headquarters in Warwick more energy efficient by replacing older indoor lighting with fluorescents and LEDs.

Combined, the highway, traffic light, and headquarter retrofits add up to an annual savings of nearly 310,000 kWh, and an annual cost savings of more than $40,000.  

The Route 295 project has already proven be to be so successful that it’s being used as a model for more projects in Rhode Island. The next phase involves Route 146, which runs between the cities of Lincoln and Providence. This project involves replacing close to 1,600 high-pressure sodium street lights with LEDs. Projected savings are estimated to be more than 1.4 million kWh. The third phase involves replacing 96 outdoor lights at 10 park ‘n ride lots with LEDs.    

As RIDOT’s partner, National Grid Rhode Island provided energy efficiency incentives, on bill repayment (financing), and the opportunity to work with National Grid’s project expeditor. National Grid will continue working with RIDOT to bring LED lighting to more roads and highways in Rhode Island. National Grid is also using the Rhode Island project as a model for other highway/transportation agencies to consider.

By incorporating energy efficiency into its planning, RIDOT has made Rhode Island’s roads safer, and our planet healthier. In the process, the agency saves energy and precious operating dollars. RIDOT’s road to success is paved with more than good intentions; they’re paved with proven energy efficiency technologies that light the way for other road projects across the country. 

Annual Energy Savings (kwh/yr): 309,784
Total Savings ($): 39,817
Total Project Cost ($): 244,389
Incentive Dollars ($): 145,988
Customer Cost ($): 98,401
Simple Payback (yrs): 2.5

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