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Grant buys new green lights

Medford is getting the green light ' literally.

Thanks to a &

36;15,000 grant from the Energy Trust of Oregon, the city gets to upgrade hundreds of green traffic lights.

The new lamps use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, for display. LED lights use less energy and have longer lives than the incandescent lamps, and until recent months, only red LEDs have been available.

The energy trust is a nonprofit organization promoting conservation and clean energy, and its grant covers nearly half the cost of the 250 new lamps.

Drivers probably won't notice the change unless they look closely at the lights. LED lights are slightly brighter.

Wayne Pace, public works superintendent, said converting to LEDs could save the city about &

36;25,000 each year.

Pace said the incandescent light behind the green filter Medford lights have now uses 122 watts, while the LEDs use 22 watts.

You could have as many as 16 to 22 LEDs in an intersection, he said.

Converting an intersection to LEDs cuts energy use 70 percent to 72 percent, he said.

Another bonus, he said, is the life expectancy of LEDs. The incandescent bulbs are changed every year, but the LEDs' lifespan is five to 10 years. He said the city began converting the red lights about seven years ago and none of those has needed replacement yet.

That saves crew time and traffic interruptions, he said.

The yellow light isn't a concern, because it stays on for a short duration.

Pace said he expects the new green lights to be installed beginning mid-November on major thoroughfares, including Highway 62, Barnett Road, Stewart Avenue and Biddle Road.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail