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Municipality of Anchorage, AK ushers in a bright new future | Current by GE


Surrounded by a wealth of natural resources, the Municipality of Anchorage, AK prides itself on a long-standing tradition of environmental stewardship.

So when it came time to replace aging street lights, Municipality of Anchorage-owned Municipal Light & Power (ML&P) took the opportunity to work with Current, powered by GE, and electrical distributor Crescent Electric Supply to upgrade its lighting system with outdoor commercial lighting fixtures and a cloud-based control system that can be expanded to operate most of the community’s public, outdoor light systems.

Within Anchorage’s core downtown area—an ML&P-served territory which houses the community’s urban residences and businesses—streets were lit by almost 4,000 streetlights containing 150-400 Watt high pressure sodium (HPS) technology.

But in addition to being less energy efficient than other technologies, “HPS lamps turn amber as they age, reducing visibility, particularly over snow,” says Jim Jager, a Municipal executive who works on projects at ML&P.

“Based on our only 4-5 hours of darkness per day in the summer and as much as 19 hours of darkness in the winter, plus a blanket of snow from October to March/April that causes light to reflect in all directions,” Jager says, “Anchorage lighting needs are different from most other cities.”


The Municipality of Anchorage needed a “total system” that would support its desire to protect its dark skies through a networked, controllable configuration while directing more light onto roads.

At the same time, notes ML&P’s Gary Agron, Division Manager, Engineering, the Municipality is home to several different utilities and state/local agencies governing the city’s streetlights—making it difficult to know who owns each streetlight and pole, who is responsible for maintaining it, and who should be billed for it.  As a result, Anchorage needed a smart system that could identify and track assets and outages.

After researching their smart city lighting options, Jager says LEDs appealed to the Municipality of Anchorage because they require less maintenance and maintain their color and brightness throughout fixture life. They sought an enhanced system that could provide controllability, networked connectivity, visibility to lighting outages, and asset management capabilities.

Together with Current’s award-winning Evolve™ LED roadway lighting fixtures, LightGrid can deliver the energy efficiency, reliability, and flexibility needed to optimally support the street and roadway lighting needs of the most modern cities and towns.


With the majority of the participating streetlights (3,900) already converted to the new 4000K LED system and the remainder to be completed by year-end 2017, the entire team has been delighted with the results of the Anchorage smart city project.

Projected energy savings from converting the 150-400 Watt HPS lamps to LEDs are more than 40%, with LightGrid delivering the Municipality a simple payback period of eight years. Supported by a 10-year warranty, the LEDs are rated for 100,000 hours, which, given the Municipality’s 4,100 hours of annual usage, will provide years of maintenance-free operation.

“It will also enable us to identify which lights are ours and give us immediate notification of outages so that our maintenance crew can address them promptly,” he says. “The control system will give us precise information about maintenance patterns and power usage for individual lights so that we can make more informed decisions going forward.”

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